Breaking open a confessional seal

Breaking open a confessional seal View Gallery
Trina McKillen: ‘I wanted a purpose but I didn’t know what it was’

Visual artist Trina McKillen’s childhood in west Belfast ensured she would have a deep attachment to the Catholic Church. Her own mother’s feeling of betrayal in the face of the child abuse revelations compelled her to explore that darkness, pain and ambiguity in her work. Her new installation Confess is provoking sorrowful and profound reactions in the US, writes Marion McKeone

When Trina McKillen was a child in Anderstown, west Belfast, the Catholic Church was literally a place of safety and refuge. “I grew up dodging bullets on the way home from school. For us as children, the church was the one place we felt safe,” she says.

During the bloody mayhem of the North in the 1970s, McKillen and her classmates would take refuge there when their school was evacuated because of bomb threats.

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