Sculptor Maurice Harron’s old paintings go on display for first time at new exhibition

Strabane’s Alley Theatre hosting collection as part of Mental Health Arts Festival

The Gathering, the first public exhibition in 20 years by Londonderry’s Maurice Harron, includes sculptures and paintings not previously seen before.

While poor health has forced the 77-year-old to stop creating art, he left his mark in sculptures that dot Ireland and the US, including Reconciliation/Hands Across the Divide in Derry, the Narnia statues in Belfast’s CS Lewis Square and a piece at the ‘Camel’s Hump’ in Strabane.

The exhibition runs until May 28 at the Alley Theatre in Strabane and is part of the Mental Health Arts Festival.

Officially opening the collection, Mr Harron’s youngest sister, Bridget Murray, said it was a proud day for the family.

“We are all so proud of Maurice, as our parents always were,” she added.

“He is our big brother to whom we have always looked up. He is our inspiration in many ways.

“Maurice has never been afraid to try new styles, new materials, new challenges. He never settled on a formula or played safe. We celebrate his imagination, versatility and artistry in this new exhibition.”

The artist’s son, Rory Harron, said: “After studying at York Street art college, dad worked as a teacher in St Joseph’s in Belfast for a few years in the early 70s before leaving to live and work in Sligo and Roscommon.

“The vibrant paintings from this period included in this exhibition explore expressionism, realism and semi-abstraction.

“The sculpture installation The Gathering, after which the exhibition is titled, depicts an ancient tribal community in strips of bronze and steel. Never seen in public before, it is wonderfully formed and brings to life and completes the exhibition.

“We’re very happy and proud to celebrate his work and hope everyone enjoys it.”

The festival aims to challenge stigmas and highlight the important role mental health plays in wellbeing and self-expression.

Chair Noelle McAlinden said: “It was a pleasure to help make this exhibition a reality and be able to speak, pay tribute and recount the many opportunities to witness Maurices’s impact as an artist, mentor and encourager and as a teacher, arts adviser and cultural champion.

“His work as an internationally renowned sculpture has impacted significantly on our physical, emotional and political landscape.

“Our theme this year is ‘Pause’. [It is] a time to stop, stand still and reflect upon the importance of our own and each others’ mental health and wellbeing.

“We encourage you to pause with us, to reflect upon the pivotal role of creativity, arts and culture in helping us make sense of a chaotic world.

“We are indebted to all of funders and festival partners, including The Baring Foundation, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Future Screens NI, The Mental Health Foundation, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Belfast City Council, Ulster University and Nerve Centre.”

The festival includes two symposiums on mental health and creativity. The first will be held in Derry this Friday and the second in Belfast on May 16.

Noelle said: “These will feature speakers drawn from arts, health, sport, education, community and voluntary sectors who will provide insights that deal compassionately and intelligently with the stigma associated with talking about our mental health.

“Both symposiums highlight the pivotal role and impact of creativity, self-expression and the arts can have upon our mental health and wellbeing.”

For the full festival programme and information on all events, visit

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