Order slams museum over KKK painting

The controversial corner of the painting depicting Orangemen as members of the Ku Klux Klan
The controversial corner of the painting depicting Orangemen as members of the Ku Klux Klan

The Orange Order has accused the Ulster Museum of “deliberate demonisation” after it displayed a painting which shows people dressed in Ku Klux Klan hoods at an Orange parade.

The almost seven ft-high oil painting, entitled ‘Christian Flautists Outside St Patrick’s’, is by the late artist Joseph McWilliams. The Belfast artist was a former lecturer at Ulster University and has been represented in major Irish group shows both in Ireland and abroad.

The Order is seeking an urgent meeting with the museum. An Order spokesman said: “Members of the Orange Institution are entitled to feel outraged that a major publicly funded facility should display such artwork which is deeply offensive to their traditions, and the ethos of one of the largest community organisations on this island.

“As a worldwide fraternity, the Order is proud to have autonomous Grand Lodges in West Africa, and with no colour bar, provide a social outlet for members in both Togo and Ghana.”

The Order has “no hesitation” in condemning the Ku Klux Klan, he added.

A spokeswoman from National Museums Northern Ireland said the annual Royal Ulster Academy selected the content in the exhibition, which opened at the Ulster Museum on October 16.

“The Ulster Museum is aware that some works may be sensitive and occasionally provocative and, as the host venue of this art exhibition, welcomes all feedback from visitors which it will pass on to the Royal Ulster Academy,” she added.