Hands cast for original sculpture
Gerry Adams: President of Sinn Féin
Malachi Curran: Leader of the Labour Party of Northern Ireland
David Ervine: Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party
John Hume: Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Gary McMichael: Leader of the Ulster Democratic Party
Monica McWilliams: Co-Founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition
Mo Mowlam: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (UK Government)
Seán Neeson: Leader of the Alliance Party
David Trimble: First Minister of the NI Assembly and Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
Hands cast of additional politicians and key people involved in the peace process

Bertie Ahern: Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Irish Government and Leader of Fianna Fáil
John Alderdice: Speaker of NI Assembly and Leader of the Alliance Party
David Andrews: Minister for Foreign Affairs of Irish Government
Tony Blair: Prime Minister of UK Government
Denis Bradley: Co-chairman of Consultative Group on the Past and Vice Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board
Rev Harold Good: Member of Decommissioning Body
Gerry Kelly: Member of the NI Assembly and Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Policing and Justice
Naomi Long: Leader of the Alliance Party
Seamus Mallon: Deputy First Minister of NI Assembly and Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Bernie McGuinness: Widow of Deputy First Minister of the NI Assembly and Leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness
Malcolm McKibbin: Head of NI Civil Service
Sen. George Mitchell: US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland and Chair of NI Peace Negotiations
Mike Nesbitt: Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
Liz O’Donnell: Minister of State for Department of Foreign Affairs of the Irish Government
Nuala O’Loan: Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland 
Ian Paisley Junior: Member of UK Parliament and son of Reverend Ian Paisley
Chris Patten: Chair of Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland
Jonathan Powell: Downing Street Chief of Staff for Tony Blair
Peter Robinson: First Minister of NI Assembly and Leader of Democratic Unionist Party

"Desapariciones" by Helen Zout

LCpl’s Stan Holman’s photographs, from "Belfast Shadows" by Jamie Holman

"Abandoned house in old Mampujan" by Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez

"The Keys" installation by Raymond Watson

"The Grappling Hook" video by Raymond Watson


A contemporary Art Exhibition reflecting on 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland

This touring show has been exhibited at
Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

Interviews with Raymond Watson and Ken Bartley
​by Art for art for Reconciliation project
Institute of Irish Studies
​University of Liverpool

Shortly after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the artist Raymond Watson managed to persuade the politicians involved in negotiating the Agreement (some of whom are now deceased) to allow him to take a cast of their hands, which he later cast in bronze, to create a unique sculpture entitled Hands of History.

Raymond‘s Hands of History is an important, significant and truly unique artwork that captures a momentous and historic event in Irish history. 

 To mark the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of a power sharing assembly, Raymond has been casting the hands of a range of people from across the communities who have helped build the peace over the last twenty years.

The Hands of History includes bronzes of the hands of Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern,Tony Blair, John Hume, Senator George Mitchell, Lord David Trimble, Mo Mowlam and others who led the peace process, alongside the cast hands of those who continue to advance peace-building, including Monica McWilliams, Peter Robinson and the Rev Harold Good.

This Hands of History centrepiece will be accompanied two new installations that combine genuine and rare historical items with digital technology to produce immersive, thought provoking art installations.


The artefacts include an original prison-made grappling hook and the ‘keys of Crumlin Road Prison.’

The grappling hook was covertly crafted and hidden by prisoners at Long Kesh/Maze prison in the early 1970s. The artist brought the hook to Belfast’s Peace Wall, a 25 foot high structure that divides the two communities, and used as the centrepiece of an audio visual exploration of the struggle to escape both the wall and the sectarianism it represents.


The second installation utilizes the actual keys from the cells and buildings at the Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, in a walk-through sound and visual experience that attempts to explore the past’s power to imprison,while also exploring the possibilities of unlocking, and of setting free.

Filming at the Peace Wall in Belfast

"RIP Decky" by Chad Alexander

Sign up to the ArtisAnn Email Newsletter for updates about this project and to receive invites to previews and special events at the ArtisAnn Gallery

​The Agreement: The People’s Process project has been supported by:

Irish Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Patrick Gaul

British Council NI

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust with funding from the Covenant Fund

Grant Aided by Belfast City Council

The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool

The ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast

More of Raymond Watson's artworks can be seen at the ArtisAnn Gallery

"Interface Images" by Frankie Quinn


The exhibition was initiated by the Institute of Irish Studies in Liverpool, working alongside the ArtisAnn Gallery in Belfast. The Institute is a recognised world leader in promoting the understanding of peace building and conflict resolution.

Commenting on the exhibition, Professor Peter Shirlow FAcSS, Director, The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, said:


‘The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is in its 21st year. It led to a significant reduction in violence and the building of new transitional agreements. Despite evident difficulties it has achieved much and in particular grounded peace-building into communities. We felt recognition of the Agreement should be undertaken through the creative arts so as to embed the peace process as belonging to the people. It is they who have stretched themselves into new relationships. Without those who had suffered and endured taking on the role of brokers for transformation there would be no peace process.


The Institute of Irish Studies has commissioned/engaged three pieces. Raymond Watson's Hand of History exhibition speaks to the capacity to escape ideological enclosure. Pauline Hadaway has curated a photographic exhibition that speaks to global images of conflict, and we have commissioned a video celebrating young people's determination to be custodians of peace-building. Finally, SEFF have agreed to exhibit the commemorative quilts related to the innocent victims of conflict.


We hope that in assembling such an array of materials and concepts that those who visit the exhibition feel immersed in the spirit of remembering and promoting peace.’

ArtisAnn Gallery 
Art Works
​70 Bloomfield Avenue, Belfast, BT5 5AE

Gallery Opening Times
Tue - Fri: 11am to 6pm
Sat: Midday to 5pm

​Email: mail@artisann.org

077 263 263 90 (Ann)
​079 053 395 69​​​​​ (Ken)

This exhibition will resonate with the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland, as the artworks reflect the many varied experiences of those who lived through the Troubles and those who have grown up or made Northern Ireland their home during the last twenty years.


Agreement: The People’s Progress, explores the past through the use of video, photographs and craftwork.


The video Lyrical Agreement includes excerpts from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement read aloud by Belfast people of all ages.  The voices belong to those who survived the conflict, and those who have been lucky enough to know only peaceful times.


Invitation to Observe, curated by Pauline Hadaway, presents seven remarkable works that bear witness to, and reflect on, the experience of conflict and conflict transformation. These photographs create a journey through international conflict resolution from Northern Ireland, Argentina, Colombia and Iraq, using photographs by British, Irish, Argentinean and Colombian contributors.  Highlights include Frankie Quinn’s Interface Images, LCpl’s Stan Holman’s collection, and Chad Alexander’s Entries.  Invitation to Observe is an intimate and emotional journey through the landscape of the city exploring the personal impact of conflict on both victims and serving officers in the British Army.

Memorial Quilts, produced by those who lost loved ones in the conflict, will be on display.  The Memorial Quilts allow us to tell the story of ‘The Troubles’ in a very human way, encouraging people viewing the patches to consider the individual being remembered and not simply the badge or affiliation they had with a particular organisation which for some made them a ‘legitimate target’ for assassination. These individual’s lives had worth not only to their families but to their colleagues, friends and the wider community at large.

The Hands of History + 20

part of


A contemporary Art Exhibition reflecting on 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland