Dutch duo Studio Giftig made their way to Belfast for the annual Hit the North street art festival and left behind a stunning showcase of their talents. Niels van Swaemen and Kaspar van Leek worked together on a piece that paid homage to the history of the building on which it was painted. Belfast Spring is part of a new series where the pair surround their characteristic portraiture with flying objects as a way to soften the composition and add movement.
In the case of the Belfast mural, the duo was told that they would be painting on the side of an old linen mill. Looking to make a connection with this history, they painted a female figure surrounded by flax flowers, as linen is made from flax. Symbolically, the choice also made sense.
Flax is a flower of rebirth, just as the spring season is also a time of renewal. And Hit the North—now in its 10th year—has been a way to renew the city through art.
Created in cool shades of blue and light purple, the mural projects a calm, soothing aura. A soft light appears behind the woman at the center, as she glances off to the side serenely. Her hand clutches her scarf, as she appears ready to throw off the last shackles of winter and embrace the new season.
For Studio Giftig, the opportunity to paint for the community in Belfast, who greeted them warmly, was meaningful. “We especially hope that the spectators of the image have a nice break from their daily routine,” they say, “and perhaps it can evoke a brief moment of wonder to inspire them.”
Studio Giftig will be showing off more work done in this new style when their exhibition at Goldshteyn Saatort Gallery in Paris opens on June 8, 2023.
Belfast Spring is a new mural by Studio Giftig in Northern Ireland.
Niels van Swaemen and Kaspar van Leek have been collaborating since 2007.
The mural shows off a new direction in their art, where a realistic portrait is softened by the surrounding objects.