7 Quirky Sculptures of Belfast
The Must See Sculptures for Anyone Traveling to Belfast City...
Belfast: Host to an array of statues, memorials, and sculptures, each of which is a piece of outdoor public art in their own right and has a place in celebrating the cities’ rich local history. Here are seven of such sculptures, all of which are unusual or unconventional, that each local or visitor alike should see.
Alec the Goose
Alec the Goose—"A former patron of St George's Market"—is a memorial to a well-known local goose which frequented the market area for several years in the 1920s. Regularly seen mingling with stall owners on market days, Alec's life was short-lived, as he was struck (whilst gandering) by a lorry outside his beloved market in 1926, but he remains a firm favourite in local history.
Erected at the south entrance to St George's Market, the project for 'Alec' was largely opposed by The Markets’ Development Association who felt that an environmental initiative should take precedence. However, in 2009 and at a cost of £22,000, the decision was made by the Department for Social Development to move forward with the commission. The result - a unique, life-sized, and lovable bronze figurine of Alec "and friend."
Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker
These bronze figures, situated on Great Victoria Street, depict two working-class women and are a tribute to the hardships of Belfast women working in traditional domestic roles or low paid employment. Items such as a coat hanger and feeding bottle adorn the body of one figure, a typewriter and telephone the other. Check out the facial expressions. They say it all, really.
The work of Cork artist Louise Walsh, the project, and its design were initially rejected in 1989 by Belfast City Council, who were more in favour of a sculpture to better represent the nearby Amelia Streets' history as a "red light district." Luckily, the piece was later commissioned by a private developer, and the artwork was erected in 1992.
Sheep on the Road
Placed strategically in the built-up urban Waterfront area of Belfast, this creation from Northern Irish sculptor Deborah Brown is a stark reminder of Belfast history long past. The sculpture—of a shepherd and his six sheep—stands in a concrete paved metropolitan area where once a busy livestock market stood.
Originally intended for the Arts Council of Northern Irelands' "Riddell Hall sculpture garden," The Laganside Corporation bought and placed the artwork in Lanyon Place in 1991. It can be found at the entrance to The Waterfront Hall, faring all weathers.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the front steps of the Belfast 'Custom House' were the platform from which many a public speaker addressed the crowds of the square before them. They spoke on a number of topics - Jim Larkin who famously spoke to crowds of thousands of dock labourers, Frank Ballantyne, an extremist of sorts who lectured on the sinfulness of ping pong and other 'vices' and numerous preachers and evangelists imparting their teachings and gospel.
'The Speaker' is a bronze depiction of one such orator in full, unbridled flow, created by local artist Gareth Knowles in 2005 and placed in front of a number of bronze footsteps to depict the listeners or perhaps hecklers which once crowded around the speakers.
Placed in 1998 to commemorate the centenary of local author CS Lewis' birth, 'The Searcher' depicts the Narnia character Digory Kirk from Lewis' work 'The Magicians Nephew', but is modeled on an impression of Lewis from 1919. Located at CS Lewis Square in East Belfast and the work of Northern Irish sculptor Ross Wilson, the figure is, ironically, at the gateway to the magical CS Lewis Square which boasts a number of Narnia-themed sculptures.
Titanic Yardmen 401
No list concerning Belfast would be complete without a mention of the iconic Titanic. Therefore, our penultimate sculpture is one depicting the shipyard workers of the ill-fated liner, erected by the East Belfast community to honour their shipbuilding heritage. Another creation from local artist Ross Wilson, the memorial captures the mood and attire of the workers perfectly, from the figures' determined strides to their 'dunchers' - traditional flat caps. Found on the lower Newtownards Road, with the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard cranes as a backdrop, it is a tribute 'To the memory of men who built Giants'.
The Salmon of Knowledge
And finally, 'The Big Fish,' a 32-foot salmon found on the banks of the Lagan, made up of numerous ceramic tiles (or scales) which each tell a tale of Belfast history through images and text. From Victorian photographs to recent local headlines, 'Ulster fry' drawings to map illustrations by Belfast school children, the fish is not only a one-stop shop for local history but is also now famed for its offbeat beauty.
The creation of local artist John Kindness, the fish also contains a time capsule full of local information. The artwork was commissioned in 1999 to mark the regeneration of the Lagan area.