Belfast youths from Prince’s Trust leave their mark on Divis and the Black Mountain in a collaborative art project with street artist Dermot McConaghy and the National Trust

This week the National Trust has been delighted to facilitate a creative collaboration between established street artist Dermot McConaghy and a group of 10 young unemployed adults aged 16 to 30 from the Prince’s Trust.

Divis and the Black Mountain overlooks the city and has been both a sanctuary and a place of exclusion for people throughout its history. The National Trust took over the care of the mountain in 2005 and today 170,000 people come every year to explore the trails, take in the panoramic views and observe the local wildlife.

The Divis Street Art project is inspired by the National Trust Peoples Landscape programme in 2019. The programme celebrates people’s connection to landscape, unearthing hidden histories, passions and protests.  This project captures those tales and emotions in artistic form, creating a visual community art piece that reflects the voice of the youth of Belfast today.

The art project was developed as part of the Prince’s Trust ‘Team Programme’, a free 12-week personal development programme for 16-30 year old’s based at Colin Glen Forest Park. The programme is designed to bring the best out of these young people, with personal and mental health workshops, outdoor activities, friendships, work placements and the opportunity to get involved in community projects, such as this one at Divis.

10 young adults spent four days on Divis Mountain with Irish artist Dermot from Seedhead Arts, exploring the theme of People’s Landscape: Unearthing passion and protest. The group were challenged to design and create a stunning piece of art on the outside of the old Nissan Hut at Divis and Black Mountain. Over four days, the old Nissan hut was transformed by their creative response to the mountain landscape. 

The group benefitted from a series of facilitated art sessions with Dermot who taught them the skills required to deliver an art project of this scale. Artist Dermot, who signs his pieces DMC explained: ‘What I like about this type of project is that we get to solve a problem visually. The process involves people coming together and having a discussion, and then turning their collective ideas into a concept. Developing that concept into a design for a wall is the end result; and everyone gets to nurture the idea until it becomes a finished piece.’

 

Talking about the collaboration and the positive effects the opportunity has had on the group of young adults, Prince’s Trust youth leader Jerome O’Loughlin said: ‘It’s a great opportunity for these two organisations to get together and work on a project that gives the young people from an urban space the opportunity to interact and take ownership of the rural environment.’

One of the group, Rachel, described her experience of being involved in the project; ‘This was my first time at Divis and Black Mountain – we went to the summit for ideas for the art where the 360° view was inspirational.  Street art was a new experience for me and I was apprehensive at first. However, I would definitely seek out opportunities to repeat this experience in the future. It has really helped change my pessimistic outlook on winter.’

Group volunteering is one of a number of ways that youth and community groups can help the National Trust shape and look after the wild landscape at Divis and Black Mountain. For more information visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/divis-and-the-black-mountain

 

 

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