Artist Terry Bradley said it was an “incredible honour” to have one of his iconic Dockers pieces featured in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s seven-time Oscar-nominated film Belfast.
a huge mural depicting the North Belfast man’s Docker’s Rest at Hickson’s Point, Titanic Belfast, appears at the start of the film, recreated in bright blue and repositioned on a wall.
As the camera guides the audience over the wall, from the colorful contemporary city to the black and white Belfast of 1969, Bradley’s work is the last big splash of dynamism viewers see. However, there are occasional momentary flashes of color showing Branagh’s childhood love of film.
Now a giant replica of the artwork, depicting nine dockworkers painted in striking blue, with a similarly toned background, is to be painted as a mural on the Peace Wall at Lanark Way in west Belfast .
It will be painted by a local artist who specializes in spray paint, based on Bradley’s revised artwork that features in the film.
Bradley, whose paintings have appeared on TV shows such as EastEnders and Vera, said: “I received an email a while back asking if Docker’s Rest could be used in a movie Branagh was making about Belfast.
“I had been commissioned to paint a piece for Hickson’s Point and that was the image they wanted to use. I assumed it was some sort of documentary-style film, with Branagh walking the streets of Belfast, talking about his childhood.
“To be honest, I pretty much forgot about it by then, until the trailer came out and I realized it was a really big deal; it’s a Hollywood movie that’s seen around the world.
“The work has been slightly modified, it has been recolored in blue and repositioned on a wall instead of a building. But the fact that the image takes the audience over the wall, from color to black and white and from present to past is amazing. It’s an incredible honor and I’m absolutely thrilled.
What makes the use of Bradley’s works even more personal is that, like Branagh, he comes from a working-class area in North Belfast and grew up there around the same time. As Branagh’s family moved to England at the start of the Troubles, Bradley left the Manor Street area and moved to Carryduff on the outskirts of the city. And like Branagh, Bradley was also nine at the time.
“I understand Branagh’s story because in some ways mine is quite similar,” he said.
“The dockers who appear in my paintings are often real characters; men I remember coming home from the shipyard as a child.
“My paintings feature strong men and strong women who have been through tough times but are still standing tall, and it’s the same as the characters in the movie Belfast. These people had a profound effect on me when I was a child.
The Department of Justice and a local cross-community group commissioned Bradley to create a room that could be turned into a mural in Lanark Way, so he painted the exact replica from the film. Northern Irish artist Friz, who painted Bradley’s murals in Belfast and Bangor, is set to bring the film to life in Lanark Way.
Bradley’s work has been snapped up by clients as far afield as Australia and the United States and hangs on the walls of the European Union office in Brussels.
He added, “I was really shocked when I first saw the trailer and saw how massive Docker’s Rest was. I want to show Belfast and its people in a positive way with my art and Branagh’s film does the same.
“There are so many great artists in Northern Ireland that he could have chosen, so I’m very proud and delighted that he chose mine.”