Northern Ireland news

Series of distressing self-portraits by IRA bomb victim Maurice Hobson go on display at Belfast gallery

The Atypical Gallery in Belfast is hosting the exhibition, which runs until August 31. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

A SERIES of distressing self-portraits by an IRA bomb victim have been put on display in an exhibition in Belfast.

Maurice Hobson, from Caledon in Co Tyrone, was on his way to school in Dungannon in 1975 when he was left disfigured by a bomb blast.

He died at the age of 30 in 1987.

The exhibition, entitled Faces Caught in Time, runs until August 31 at Atypical Gallery in Royal Avenue.

Organisers have described the display as "a deliberate and uncomfortable reminder of the human casualties of ideological violence".

Speaking shortly before his death, Mr Hobson said that the blast had "overshadowed and influenced my life ever since, as can be seen clearly in my self-portraits."

"On September 22, 1975, I was on my way to school. After leaving the school bus we were evacuated ... within 10 minutes I was fighting for my life after being critically injured in a massive bomb-blast," he recalled.

"Metal slashed through my face, broke my jaws, damaged my left eye, fractured my skull.

"After awakening from unconsciousness, two weeks later, I had to deal with completely new circumstances."

The gallery has warned that the photos - in which rubber bands and multiple exposure are used to distort his facial features - may prove too disturbing for some.

Writing in 1984, he said: "My work is a statement about me and other people who have been injured.

"I'm irritated by people turning a blind eye to now (1984) over 20,000 victims of a situation that's no nearer a solution than it was in 1975," he added.

Mr Hobson produced more than 80 paintings and photographic-based images, which until recently were kept in his mother's house.

His mother, who has since died, could not bring herself to allow the images to go on show.

The exhibition has been organised by the University of Atypical, a charity which specialises in promoting the work of artists who are disabled and deaf, and funded by the Arts Council and Belfast City Council.

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