Good Friday Agreement architects feature in new Belfast video portrait exhibition

A new art display that has been two decades in the making has opened to mark the 25th anniversary of Northern Ireland's historic peace deal.

The video installation, 'AGREEMENT', shows silent moving portraits of 14 politicians involved in forging the 1998 accord that ended decades of violence in NI.

The cross-community representatives from NI, ROI, GB and the USA were recorded individually while watching a minutes-long film, against the backdrop of a velvet curtain#

13 of the 14 portraits were filmed by artist Amanda Dunsmore, but the piece featuring the late Mo Mowlam, Secretary of State for NI at the time of the agreement, was created by "machine learning" having been digitally processed from archive media footage.

Viewing the installation, Northern Ireland Women's Coalition co-founder Monica McWilliams said she was moved to tears when she saw the footage of some for her former colleagues who have passed away. She herself was filmed in 2017 for the art display, while recovering from cancer.

"It was quite emotional seeing David Ervine's, and it was almost like I could reach out and touch him that he was still there," she said.

I asked her what she would say to the late peace agreement architects.

"You did a good job. And now I am looking up at you as guardians of this peace agreement," she replied.

Artist Amanda Dunsmore said that through living here, she felt the impact of the GFA, and wanted to form an artistic response to that.

She explained the significance of the silence of the politicians featured.

"I remember the amount of information that was being given, the politicians were talking at us basically," she said.

"But we we we listened and we believed that we understood them, because they were talking all the time...

"But actually communication is based upon this - what we're having right now - I'm talking but I'm reading you and you're silent.

"And so there is an understanding and communication is the basis of society's basis. That everything in humanity.

"So when you bring back the silence into the visual understanding for the audience, there's a really deep connection that's made."

Here is the list of politicians featured in 'AGREEMENT', in order of date filmed:

David Ervine, Progressive Unionist Party

John Alderdice, Alliance Party

Martin McGuiness, Sinn Fein

John Hume, SDLP

David Trimble, Ulster Unionist Party

Senator George Mitchell, US Special Envoy for NI

Monica McWilliams, Northern Ireland Women's Coalition

Pearl Sagar, Northern Ireland Women's Coalition

Seamus Mallon, SDLP

Bertie Ahern, Fianna Fail Taoiseach

Gary McMichael, Ulster Democratic Party

Malachi Curran, Labour Party of Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein

Mo Mowlam, Labour Secretary of State for NI.

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