25/09/2009

A "New Icon" For Belfast City

A new public sculpture called the 'Spirit of Belfast' was unveiled yesterday by Margaret Ritchie, the Social Development Minister.

The artwork is located at Cornmarket, Arthur Square, replacing the old bandstand.

"It is a new iconic landmark for our capital city. It is a symbol of a bright future, a symbol of a shared future in the heart of our city," said Ms Ritchie.

The seven-meter high sculpture created by New York artist Dan George is made of four curved stainless steel parts.

"The 'Spirit of Belfast' is the manifestation of our energy as we look to the future as well as a meditation on our past," explained Mr George.

'Spirit of Belfast' cost £180,000 and it was chosen by the public two years ago, as part of the plan 'Belfast: Streets Ahead' by the Department for Social Development.
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This project tries to transform the streetscape in a wider city centre areas and this sculpture represents a "colorful sphere of light and prosperity for the enjoyment of tourists, shoppers and the people of Belfast".

"I hope it will become as popular a focal point as the 'Big Fish' at Laganside or the 'Ring of Thanksgiving' at Thanksgiving Square," the Minister concluded.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Naomi Long MLA, said: "Our aim is to make the city centre safe and welcoming for visitors, local people and investors. Public artwork is one way to achieve that aim by providing an attractive and interesting environment."

The President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, John Moore, was also at the event and congratulated the Minister on her continued investment in Belfast city centre.

However, citizens' opinions are varied. Some people are satisfied with the work while other observers believed the sculpture represented a "huge waste of money" and, felt that "it doesn't look beautiful".

(Cl/GK)

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