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Richard Hamilton made three diptych paintings relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland which had become more violent in 1979. The Citizen depicts a blanketman, a republican detainee at the Maze Prison. The source for this painting was a television programme containing footage shot inside the British government’s high-security prison at Long Kesh, near Belfast. IRA prisoners demanded they be classified as political rather than criminal offenders. The British government refused, and the prisoners escalated their protests. They would not wear prison clothes, wrapping themselves only in the blankets they were provided as bedding, and lived in their own squalor.

October 2013