Colin Davidson’s exhibition Silent Testimony returns to Ulster Museum

Silent Testimony, a poignant exhibition exploring the theme of suffering and loss through the Troubles, has returned to the Ulster Museum.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 18th October 2021, 10:03 am

Internationally renowned artist, Colin Davidson, worked in partnership with cross-community victims’ support group WAVE to create the popular exhibition.

First exhibited at the Ulster Museum in 2015, it features 18 large-scale portraits, each of which powerfully portrays the personal experience of the individuals who suffered loss during the Troubles.

Outlining the hidden detail behind the exhibition, Colin Davidson, who is based in County Down, said: “Silent Testimony reveals the individual and collective suffering of these 18 people in a way that words cannot.

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Damien McNally, Mo Norton, Kathryn Thomson chief executive of National Museums NI, Colin Davidson, National Museums NI's Kim Mawhinney, John Reid and WAVE's Dennis Godfrey

“All ostensibly have different identities but are bound by a unique and shared experience of loss.

“When creating the portraits, I wanted to convey each first and foremost as a human being who had suffered as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland and to silently articulate that experience.

“When creating the exhibition, I was humbled and inspired to witness the work carried out by WAVE.

“They provide invaluable support to those who are suffering and were partners, guides and friends throughout the project.

Mo Norton with her portrait

“The shared trauma of these eighteen people remains a powerful reminder of our common humanity.”

The history of Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the present day has been dominated by the civil and political conflict known as ‘the Troubles.’

Silent Testimony explores its sitters’ varied experiences of loss as a result of this period of Northern Ireland’s recent past.

The exhibition is part of National Museums NI’s 100 Years Forward programme which marks the centenaries of Partition and the creation of Northern Ireland.

Kim Mawhinney, Senior Curator of Art, National Museums NI, has again collaborated with Colin Davidson to bring the exhibition back to Ulster Museum.

She explained: “Since the first showing of Silent Testimony at the Ulster Museum, the exhibition has toured extensively, bringing the stories of these individuals to national and international audiences and raising awareness of the ongoing legacy of the Troubles.

“National Museums NI endeavours to help people understand multiple perspectives of history, culture and identity.”

Highlighting the power of art, Kim continued: “The exhibition has reinforced the power of art as a medium to reflect and to encourage dialogue and debate.

“With this sensitive and intimate exhibition, Colin has brilliantly evoked the depth of emotion in each sitter, and their connectedness through personal loss, reminding us that at our core, we are all human.”

Speaking as the exhibition opens to the public, Mo Norton who features in one of the paintings, added: “Being included by Colin in Silent Testimony some years ago was a cathartic experience.

“Myself and the other sitters were from all different religious, political and cultural backgrounds but we were bound by a deep sense of trauma and loss.

“We had all been deeply affected by the Troubles, irrespective of the identities imposed on us by society, and Colin has sensitively depicted our shared vulnerability in this exhibition.

“Revisiting Silent Testimony is an emotive experience.

“In addition to Colin, I would like to thank WAVE for their contribution to shaping this exhibition and for their ongoing work that they do in helping people like myself to process and heal the deep emotional wounds inflicted by the Troubles.”

Silent Testimony will be supported by a public programme which will allow the theme of common humanity to be further developed and explored through gallery talks and events.

The exhibition will run until January 2022.

Admission is free.

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