IKIMASHO!

From Belfast to Tokyo. Murals of a different kind.

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If only we could paint happiness instead of hatred. My country could learn a thing or two from my Tokyo kindergarten.

I remember about four years ago, I was working as a creative in an advertising agency just behind Great Victoria Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Every day on my way to work I would pass a sectarian mural plastered on the side of a building. It depicted a man in a balaclava holding an automatic rifle: a warning to those who were not deemed welcome in those parts. Every day I walked past it. And every day a little part of me died. Seriously. I hated the job I was in at the time – but much more than that, I hated my surroundings. It was eating me alive.

To me, murals have always been associated with the darker side of my country: a part of which I want absolutely nothing to do with. Which is why this month, when I was asked to help design and paint a number of murals in my kindergarten, I couldn’t help but let out a wry smile. Gone were the days of me walking past that horrible mural on my way to work: I was now helping create something great in a place that I love.

I use art in a lot of my classes and the teachers have picked up on it. So I’m glad they approached me and asked me if I’d like to help in my free time. “Of course!” was all I could say. The kids, teachers and I had a lot of fun, and every single room has a different theme now.

Funny how things go full circle. I now pass murals every day I like.

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4 comments

  1. anonymous

    Nice post Justin. Last year the DSD removed a Mural from the City which featured the lyrics from ‘the Undertones’ song Teenage Kicks: “teenage dreams so hard to beat” A tribute to the late John Peel who adored the song.
    Most people will agree this was a silly move by the department of social development.

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