18 Aug 2022

Local artist paints poignant Bloody Sunday canvas to be displayed in Free Derry Museum

Local artist paints poignant Bloody Sunday canvas to be displayed in Free Derry Museum

The stunning canvas took Ryan over 200 hours to complete

Ryan Coyle, an art teacher at Saint Patrick’s and Saint Brigid’s College in Claudy, was asked to paint a piece for the Bloody Sunday exhibition at the Free Derry museum.

The canvas masterpiece entitled 'Crosses' is one metre wide and one and half metres high and focuses on Bloody Sunday; the march, the victims, the families and the ongoing campaign for truth and for justice.

Ryan, who moved to Strabane from Derry with his parents when he was three weeks old, said he was honoured to have been asked to create this piece.

Ryan said he felt immense pressure painting such a significant part of history
"This is my biggest piece to date both in scale and as a project as a whole. It was an absolute dream to be involved with this project. Irish culture and Irish history is so important to me.

"A few months back I was delighted to be selected to exhibit as part of the ‘Bloody Sunday to Brexit’ exhibition along with seven other artists.

"After a few busy months and many late nights, my painting was finally complete and is still on display at the Museum of Free Derry.

"In this piece I was asked to incorporate the march and the present day. I tried to make links between the march itself and everything the families have been through in their subsequent campaign for the truth.

"Each of the victims or the families are represented and I have also tried to represent those injured on the day. I felt an immense pressure being asked to paint something so important and focused on such a morbid part of history.

"I felt not only the time pressure to get it completed on time, but for the approval of the families. So far, the families have responded to it well, that is what means the most; I really wanted to capture their loved ones and their journey since in their fight for justice."

Ryan usually spends up to 30 hours on one portrait. This canvas includes over 18 close up portraits and Ryan spent over 200 hours to create the piece with many intricate profiles and detailing, "I love working in black and white and I love painting portraits but I was only given a theme; it wasn't a specific commission that I'm used to where I paint someone's parents or a celebrity.

"To have that artistic license and that creative freedom was amazing, and for such a significant piece, really was an honour."

Ryan creates many stunning pieces, receiving commissions from near and far, including a request to paint the late John Hume for a customer in Spain.

Ryan's commissioned piece of the late John Hume

Ryan said that was a special moment for him, “I was over the moon to have been asked to work on this specific piece.  

“It's the second time I've painted him. I came across this image a while back and I was eager to paint it as soon as I saw it.  

“I was delighted when my client chose this as the image she wanted. John Hume was a true great. What he did for the people of Derry is immeasurable and he is loved across our community.  

“I recently passed a few prints of this piece to some of the Hume family. It is very rewarding to know that they have got my paintings of him in their homes and that makes it all very worthwhile to me.” 

To keep up to date with Ryan’s work you can follow his Facebook page: 'Ryan Coyle Fine Art’ or his Instagram: 'ryancoylefineart’ 

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