'Seamus Dealer', Belfast, 1975
Oil on board by Ralph Lillford, 1975.
Standing in front of a shop, this British soldier is dressed for riot control. He wears a fragmentation vest, or flak jacket, over a camouflage jacket and an anti-gas respirator. As well as a riot shield to protect him from bricks and petrol bombs he holds a clipboard with a list of titles and acronyms of Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
On the left is a front door embellished by Protestant symbolism, 'God Bless the Queen', the Red Hand of Ulster, '1690' denoting the Battle of the Boyne: all framed by red, white and blue painted brickwork. The central section is a shabby shop-front daubed with an Irish Republican Army (IRA) slogan.
The artist deliberately placed the soldier midway between the Protestant house and the Roman Catholic-owned shop, so that he is caught in the middle, literally as well as metaphorically. To the right three young hooligans are misbehaving.
Between 1971 and 1976, drawn by an interest in the civil conflict, Ralph Lillford made repeated trips to Northern Ireland to draw what he saw in the streets.
NAM Accession Number
Not NAM Copyright, Artist's Copyright
National Army Museum, Society gallery