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. Occasionally a post is of different graphical form (e.g. cartoon) or is not of an image at all but is of a building or location.
(Almost) Every post is labeled as being either loyalist or republican, even if the mural is not political. The labels loyalist and republican are not intended in their exact political/sociological meanings (and so are loosely equivalent to unionist and Protestant, on the one hand, and nationalist and Catholic, on the other); rather, they serve to indicate in which community the mural or graffiti was/is to be found.
Every post is labeled as belfast or beyond belfast. Belfast posts are then labeled as north belfast, east belfast, south belfast or west belfast. The borders between these quadrants are, in turn, the lough, the river Lagan, the M-2, Crumlin Rd. 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. The loyalist or nationalist label (see Community, just above) will also tell you which community inhabits the neighbourhood. (There is also city centre.)
(Almost) every image’s location is pin-pointed on the map; the map also shows many of the so-called “peace” lines in Belfast.
Elements & Features
tricolour, union jack, red hand, four provinces: The flags or shields of Éire (the tricolour) and Britain (the Union “jack”) are prominent, alongside the Northern Irish and Ulster flags. The Northern Irish flag uses the red hand on a white background, while the Ulster flag uses the red hand on a yellow background. Loyalists use both, republicans only the latter; republican work also makes use of the shields of other provinces: Leinster, Munster and Connacht.
women: This label means that the mural honours women, whether as victims or activists or in some other way. (See the ‘About‘ page for some discussion of the changing subject matter of murals.)
poppy: The poppy and other iconography related to the British military, especially images of WWI, occur quite frequently in loyalist works.
frame, breaks frame, knot-work, segmented: 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). Segmented means that a mural has been deliberately broken up into panels, with different images in each panel.
breaks plane, plaque: Murals are typically two dimensional paintings. Sometimes a plaque is placed on the mural. 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 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.