With my football season over, I decided to make the most of my free Saturdays by heading Foyleside.
It wasn’t primarily a Street Art trip, but it would be rude not to take my camera with me and see what I can snap,
I hadn’t properly visited the city since 2007 though I have made working visits since.
Those visits were usually getting off the bus and heading to the office not seeing much. Apart from one, where I managed to cram a whole day into a lunch hour, and managed to get some photos.
For this visit, I decided I would be heading by train. For the sake of twenty minutes extra, I preferred the comfort and having a table seat to myself, setting off at 8.10am armed with my Bradshaw’s Guide*
*Not strictly true, just a couple of freesheets and the new copy of Q, because when they put a Gallagher on the cover, I give them my money and don’t ask any questions.
As I walked onto the platform at Great Victoria Street, you’ll never guess who I saw.
If you can’t work it out, you can phone a friend to see if they know.
Under any other circumstances, walking past Chris Tarrant would be quite cool, but it felt disappointing that it wasn’t Michael Portillo.
In case you are wondering what he was doing, he was filming for Extreme Railway Journeys on Channel Five.
I know Translink have a bit of a reputation, but describing them as “Extreme railway journeys” seems a bit much.
And there was me thinking I was making a scenic railway journey.
Whenever I make the journey by bus, one of the things that is hard to miss when you approach the City Centre is a giant mural on Glendermott Street. Being close to the Train Station, this was my first place to visit, getting some photos of that mural.
As well as I could try, as it was hard to get decent backlift for photos as you would be standing in the middle of the road, which is generally frowned upon.
From there, I walked along the Peace Bridge into the City Centre, having a nosey in the Guidhall.
As with any city I visit, I like to wander about and stumble into things. One piece of Street Art I stumbled upon was a mural of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.
From there, I stumbled upon some absolute hidden gems such as Smart Swag, which has a Derry Girls painting done in the style of a comic book, amongst the art and random stuff they supply.
I’ve got a house move coming up soon, so if you’re stuck for an idea for a gift, nudge nudge.
I also stumbled upon a fantastic vintage shop called Bedlam. The highlight was following the signage advertising a shop called The Yellow Yard which captured my curiosity. It was worth it.
Second hand football shirts, CDs, records, posters, pillows with artwork on them. You have to see for yourself how wonderful a shop it is.
Other highlights included a trip to the Craft Village just off Shipquay Street and a browse through a shop called The Warehouse.
But back to the Street Art. As I said earlier, I wasn’t going specifically for Street Art, but it would have been remiss of me not to get a photo of the Derry Girls mural.
Painted to promote the second series of the show, i’m not usually a fan of advertising mural, but it’s done in a way, like the John Lydon mural in Bangor, that it doesn’t say it’s an advert, and therefore won’t date.
Located in Orchard Street, it is very easy to find. It’s on a hill, so you can get to experiment with angles when taking photos of it.
Be warned though, there may be queues of people wanting to photograph it. As well as that, it is at the side of a pub, so you may have people sitting at a table featuring in your shot.
That mural was organised by UV Arts, an arts organisation based in the city.
I wondered why Gerry Quinn from Derry Girls didn’t have a mural, but I think it might be because he’s a useless shite.
Because I only had a day there, I would be confined to the City Centre, so I wouldn’t get to travel too far.
That meant I didn’t get to see a new piece called Stag With A Bag in the Rosemount area of the city.
That was done by Irony, who is a regular visitor to Belfast and has featured on this blog. He also did another piece in Derry with his leftover paint where Praxis is based, but I didn’t get a chance to see that either. Maybe next time.
If I did have more time on my hands, I might have also taken a trip to see Drumahoe, the abandoned football stadium which has become a morbid tourist attraction, albeit not quite on Chernobyl type levels due to it being abandoned since a flood in August 2017.
I didn’t get a chance when I waited at the Park and Ride beside the ground last November due to time constraints, so I plan to have a look around there when Linfield are away to Institute next season.
Abandonment was a theme of the weekend, with a talk by Abandoned NI (you should check out their rather excellent Facebook page) at Vault Studios as part of Belfast Photo Festival.
Unfortunately, I faffed about and it sold out before I could get a ticket. My bad.
Talking of Vault Studios, i’m planning to get some photos of the Street Art outside it, so watch this space.
Back to my visit Foyleside, it was an enjoyable day out, saw some Street Art, visited some decent independent shops and got sore feet from lots of walking about.
And I got a celeb spot.
It’s such an easy city to navigate around, you can pick up where is where very quickly. I’ll definitely plan on making a return visit. I might even make it a June thing with there being no football one.
There’s also a lot of spare wallspace. Hopefully, if I do come back, it will be filled up with more Street Art.
Stroke City Street Art October 2015