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Network Members’ Digital Exhibition

Women of Belfast 7, 1972

(Ulster Museum/NMNI)

  1. E. McWilliam (born Banbridge, County Down, 1909-1992)


Donated by the Friends of the Ulster Museum

After attending the Belfast College of Art, Frederick Edward McWilliam left Northern Ireland in 1928 to continue his training at the Slade School of Art, London. He lived and worked for most of his life in London, teaching sculpture at the Slade until 1968.

McWilliam often worked in series. This sculpture is from the series called Women of Belfast which, he explained, ‘was concerned with violence, with one particular aspect, bomb-blast – the woman as victim of man’s stupidity’. Although they can be read as a metaphor for women affected by violence, these sculptures were McWilliam’s response to the Provisional IRA bombing of the Abercorn Restaurant in the centre of Belfast on 4 March 1972. The bomb exploded in the restaurant which was packed with Saturday afternoon shoppers, killing two women and injuring some 70 other people.