Black and White Oil Drum

© By Marie-Thérèse Davis

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The city of Belfast underwent dramatic changes during The Troubles. The cityscape changed on a daily basis as bombs exploded, shots were fired and cars hijacked and burnt-out. Added into this heady mix, was the Greater Belfast Development Plan: an ambitious plan to landscape the city, to protect the central business and retail district form the terrorist bombs and disruption. Thus the West Link was constructed, separating the city centre from West and North Belfast (the “hot spots” for trouble). Unity Flats were demolished and their population dispersed throughout the city, a new wider road was constructed across Millfield.

I came back from Oxford for a visit and was amazed at the changes. I photographed the works at Millfield, North Queen Street and the docks and incorporated some of the imagery into my paintings and prints. The builders used temporary traffic lights cemented (concreted!) into oil drums, to control the passing cars. I loved these watchful guardians, peeking out from mounds of earth and broken tarmac, guiding us safely through the city. When they no longer needed, they were abandoned amongst the derelict buildings and destroyed roads…perhaps they’re underneath the present road surface, holding it up? As it was winter, Belfast seemed colder and greyer than normal to me so I painted the cityscape in monochrome.

Further Infomation


Oils and Mixed Media on Board


32in x 48½in (81cm x 123.5cm)