Recognition in China for The Bogside Artists

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The Bogside Artists of Derry, N.Ireland have received a remarkable honour of being featured in China's number one newspaper. The artists are famous for their murals in their home town of Derry, N.Ireland. The People's Gallery that they created depicts over thirty years of political strife in the province. Now, they are known to millions.

We did not paint our murals exclusively for Derry or even for Ireland, but for the whole world. It amazes us that the Chinese understood this from the start while many of our own people either fail to grasp it or are too mean to give us the credit. Tom

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The art world and its history are replete with ordinary folk doing extraordinary things in sharp contrast to the prevailing myth that only the extraordinary can do the extraordinary. Three such artists who do battle with the myth are the Bogside Artists who, last week, received the amazing honour of being featured in China’s most popular newspaper The Southern Weekly.

The paper is famous at home and abroad for its courageous criticism of the Chinese government. The article covers the trio and the mural they painted for Dafen museum in Shenzhen. It is a mural that evidently caught the imagination of many Chinese. Even more incredible perhaps is the fact that mention is made of William Kelly's highly controversial book Travels with Li Po that he claims was ripped off "hook, line and sinker" by none other than J.K.Rowling. This is one of the very few times the book has been mentioned in any newspaper. No UK or Irish newspaper will go near it. Li Po or Li Bai as he is known to the Chinese is their national poet of whom William has long been an admirer and around whom he based one of his central characters... the old wise alchemist LI Po

The murals they painted for The Bogside that they call The People’s Gallery are visited yearly by thousands of visitors despite the overt lack of will on the part of the icumbent politicos to promote them. They need have no worries about inadvertently promoting the three men who painted them, Tom Kelly, William Kelly and Kevin Hasson. They seem to be doing okay all by themselves... in China of all places! The Bogside Artists will be flying soon to the US to paint more murals to add to their impressive tally. We will surely hear more of them over the coming months.

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TOM KELLY
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