Hewitt In The Frame project was a public art partnership between the Greater Shankill Partnership and Creative Exchange Artist Studios in 2010. It was part of a large-scale programme called If Walls Could Talk that started in 2005 where Deirdre Robb worked as an Archivist in documenting the process and the production of the first three artworks. An important aspect of The If Walls Could Talk Project was the art skilling workshops delivered to the community in the Greater Shankill area. The overall aim was to transform the Peace Wall at Cupar Way into one of the longest outdoor art galleries in the world; raise the skills of the Shankill community in art practice as well as creating debate on the existence of the notorious peace walls in Belfast
Belfast City Council funded the project through the Creative legacies Programme. Important to note, this wall has been in place for 45 years separating Protestant and Catholic Communities. The brief for the artwork included significant community involvement and a means of installation that will allow the art to be relocated when the time comes for the wall to be dismantled.
Artists Deirdre Robb and Lesley Cherry led the project and engaged a number of facilitators to deliver workshops to a wide range of groups, schools, ages and disabilities that later informed the artworks. The theme of the project was based around John Hewitt, a world-renowned poet who came from the area and wrote inspirational poetry reflective of an Irish man commenting on his life experience. The end result of the culminated into an extensive 100ft long public artwork for the peace wall.
The artwork was a triptych with (A) framed interactive area for visitors to write messages directly onto – a tradition amongst tourists to Belfast on this wall – (B) a poetry section with school children and community images and (C) the main artwork consisting of landmarks in and around the Shankill area and it’s adjacent communities entwined with lines of Hewitt’s poetry. Creative Exchange Artist Studios