The Story of Us and Them

On the outside wall of the Black Box in Belfast’s Cathedral district is an amazing piece of art by Conor Harrington I saw it the first time I was in Belfast after many years and every time I go back I always make sure to check that it’s still there. It’s a fencing scene that feels both contemporary and classic at once, a scene you might find framed on a wall in a stately home and yet the style evokes something else, something very present and contemporary, baroque, abstract and graffiti styles all rolled into one.


Harrington, Irish born, now London based has seen his work rise up from the street to galleries. There are imprint coffee table books and a growing market for his amazing works.

The Heni gallery here in London is exhibiting a set of new works by Harrington called, The Story of Us and Them. Focusing on the growing sense of isolation that countries seem to be moving towards, with new walls being erected, boundaries and borders being constricted or closed and the notion of a post-globalistic world emerging, Harrington has created a set of works that invite us to think about these emerging divisions. He made two flags, one red one blue and they feature in all the works. The gallery blurb says,

Harrington drenches historical portraits of forgotten generals in vivid hues of red and blue, exaggerating this idea of ‘us and them’ through various political and cultural tropes. He stages photoshoots on which he bases the scenes in his paintings and utilises fire extinguishers, brushes, squeegees, hand painting and more to build up an image on his large canvases.  

For this series Harrington had two flags made, one red and one blue, which he reproduces in paint and through which he has fictionalised the idea of a nation state to examine ideas on tribalism and patriotism.  

The film above gives you a sense of his work, and if you are unfamiliar with Harrington, you might want to have a little walk around the web and discover his amazing art.