A GUIDE TO CATEGORIES
Various categories are used to describe the images featured on the blog. These appear at the bottom of each post and act as quick filters or search-terms. The categories themselves can be grouped into the following larger categories:
Most posts are either graffiti or mural or board or poster or stencil. Street art for our purposes is a form of muraling but the words “street art” are used in posts featuring street art (as distinct from traditional murals) and a search using the term “street art” will yield good results.
Other types include plaque, (memorial) stone, glass, metalwork. Occasionally a post is of a building or location.
frame, breaks frame, breaks plane: Murals, especially republican murals, sometimes have a (painted) frame or border. This frame is often celtic knot-work and includes the flags/shields of the four provinces. Sometimes portraits of people killed are placed in/over the frame; occasionally the content in the main panel breaks out into the frame; very occasionally a mural is extended beyond the natural frame of the wall by an extension in some other material (one | two). Occasionally a three-dimensional object will be placed on or near the mural, perhaps a plaque on a wedge of wood or a bouquet of flowers.
sponsored, signature: Older murals were unsigned; lately signatures or marks of some kind are occasionally appearing, perhaps due in part to the change in genre from political subjects to cultural ones and sponsorship by state agencies rather than local communities only.
Also: windows in walls because not every mural gets am uninterrupted surface.
Most images that are not from the city centre is labeled as being either PUL (Protestant-Unionist-Loyalist) or CNR (Catholic-Nationalist-Republican), even if the content is not political. The labels serve to indicate the dominant community in which the mural or graffiti was/is to be found.
Belfast posts are then labeled as north Belfast, east Belfast, south Belfast or west Belfast. The borders between these quadrants are, clockwise from the north-east, the lough, the river Lagan, the M-2, Crumlin Rd. (There is also city centre.)
Many posts are then labeled with a specific neighbourhood. Republican areas include Ardoyne, Ballymurphy, New Lodge, Short Strand; loyalist areas include Sandy Row, Shankill, the Village. Castlereagh is included in east Belfast; Dundonald (which includes Tullycarnet and Ballybeen) is not.
(Almost) every image’s location is pin-pointed on the map; the map also shows many of the so-called “peace” lines in Belfast.
The group that the mural is about (which is not necessarily the group that sponsored the mural), including most commonly IRA, INLA, UVF, UDA, Sinn Féin, RUC/PSNI, 36th (Ulster) Division (there are also tags for WWI and Ulster Volunteers), Orange Order, and others.
The label assault rifle is used to keep track of volunteers in “active” poses, as distinct from funeral volley/graveside mourner for those in reflective
National Flags And Symbols
CNR: tricolour, tricolours, shamrock, four provinces
PUL: union jack, four nations.
The flags of Éire (the Tricolour) and Britain (the Union jack) are prominent, alongside the Northern Irish flag (Ulster Banner) and St Andrew’s Saltire. (The Northern Irish flag uses the red hand on a white background, while the Ulster flag uses the red hand on a yellow background.)
Republican work also makes use of the shields of other provinces: Leinster, Munster and Connacht. Loyalist work sometimes makes reference to the four “home” nations – Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, represented by their flags or flowers (thistle, shamrock, rose, daffodil, respectively).
Each side also has a lily: Easter lily for republicans and (occasionally) Orange lily for loyalists.
Outlines of the island of Ireland and of Northern Ireland separated from the Republic Of Ireland are used in CNR and PUL murals, respectively.
The used of Irish (Gaeilge/Gaelic) indicates a CNR mural, with the exception of the motto of the (loyalist) Red Hand Commando.
Various historical events and figures are referenced.
CNR: Cú Chulainn (who also appears in some PUL murals), 1798/pike, the Great Hunger, Connolly, Easter Rising, Bloody Sunday, H-Block, hunger strike, (also barbed wire, blanket, and lark for political prisoners), Bobby Sands,
PUL: King Billy, Siege Of Derry, (Sir Edward) Carson, the Ulster covenant, industry/H&W, WWI.
international: Many CNR murals are international in theme, drawing parallels between the republican struggle and other oppressed peoples. Very occasionally, a PUL mural will make reference to Israel.
women: This label means that the mural honours women, whether as victims or activists or in some other way. (See ‘What is a mural?‘ for some discussion of the changing subject matter of murals.)