Two new artworks honouring the contribution of the generations women who worked in Londonderry’s famous shirt factories have been unveiled at the Maiden City’s Craft Village following a commission from the Inner City Trust.
The colourful murals by UV Arts show factory women in their headscarves smiling and linking on their way to or from work to the industrial centres that were once so central to shirt-making in the province, as well as a close-up of a shirt collar being stitched and a Singer sewing machine, popularly used at that time.
The pieces, completed by graffiti artists using spray paint working to depict designs by artist Joe Campbell, are dedicated to the hard work of the city’s historic factory girls, many of whomhave gathered with pride at the site to view the commemorative images.
They were completed by the same company who also recently produced the Derry Girls mural commemorating the lead characters from the smash hit Channel 4 sitcom by Lisa McGee, which looked at the struggles of four teenage girls growing up in Stroke City during the Troubles.
The murals can be seen upon entering the Shipquay Street entrance of the Craft Village and were unveiled by mayor Michaela Boyle.
She said: “It is an honour for me to unveil these stunning murals that celebrate and recognise the key role factory workers played in shaping the recent history of our city.
“The finished work is an exciting addition to the growing network of murals and artwork around the city centre which, as we have seen from the launch of the Derry Girls mural earlier this year, add to our tourism offering and help tell our region’s story.”
The chief executive of the Inner City Trust, Helen Quigley, added: “We are delighted to commission this tribute to the generations of factory girls (and some factory men) who over the years contributed so much to the city’s economy and could truly be said to have built a great sense of community.
“Factory girls were the backbone of the city. Not only did they significantly contribute to the wider local economy, they were often the sole breadwinners in the family. Lifelong relationships were forged on the factory floor that endured over the years and beyond the walls of the factories.
“It was not unusual for grandmothers, mothers and daughters of the same families to continue the shirt factory tradition.”
“It is no exaggeration to say that they held the city together in bleak economic times providing stability and protection for their families and the wider community.
“I’m delighted for this launch to take place here amongst a new generation of skilled crafters and textile workers in the Craft Village.
“I want to thank the artist Joe Campbell for his concept work and UV Artists (Karl, Ray & Donal) who have done a fabulous job on producing the artwork”