Silent Testimony – An exhibition at the Ulster Museum

The exhibition runs at the Ulster Museum until January 2016. Everyone should visit. There are 18 paintings by the artist Colin Davidson, paintings of people who have experienced loss because of ‘The Troubles’.

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The paintings themselves are outstanding in their skill and impact but even more impactful is the knowledge with which one comes to these paintings – the knowledge that there is suffering and sorrow carried silently in the souls of those who have lost loved ones. They feel that loss every day, memories prompted by both the familiar and the unfamiliar – a smell, a sound, a sentence. There are no words in the face of human suffering such as this, suffering meted out at the hands of others. There are no words in the face of the silent testimony of these witnesses lined around the walls. They witness both suffering and resilience, pain and the strength of the human spirit. They witness too the hope that edges its way through experience and opens a sometimes tiny space for life.
These 18 witnesses are present in silent testimony to the lives of all those who carry the pain of loss and the terrifying reality of inhumanity to others in the human family.

“We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, and straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

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