Facade artwork officially launched across from our C.S. Lewis Civic Square...

Today the ‘Of the River’ artwork was officially launched in east Belfast. It is an art installation composed of four artworks which portray the rich cultural and industrial heritage of the local area and was created by local artist, Alan Burke. The artwork is located in the shadow of the shipyard cranes, on building facades at Townsley and Manderson Street at Holywood Arches - adjacent to what will eventually become our C.S. Lewis Civic Square. 

East Belfast Partnership successfully secured National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to create a piece of art to improve the appearance of the area ahead of the construction of the C.S. Lewis Civic Square.

The artist, Alan Burke, wanted to represent a timeline of the local area, from past to present and he used the Connswater River as the focal point. The river was once an artery that powered the mills and rope works and it is now to be celebrated as a place of leisure and recreation through the Connswater Community Greenway. The industrial past is represented in the artwork through the inclusion of flax flowers, ropes, chains, a shipyard worker and a Harland & Wolff crane. Amidst this industrial past the artwork also celebrates east Belfast as the birthplace of C.S. Lewis with the inclusion of the artist’s representation of Aslan.

(Local people who were involved in the creation of the artwork, artist Alan Burke and funders stand in front of one piece of the artworks)

Young people from Walkway Community Association and the East Belfast Area Youth Project participated in workshops to help create the art installation. They chose images, symbols or words that represented east Belfast to them and then used their new copper work skills to imprint their representations onto unique copper pieces. Some of these copper plate pieces form part of the final artwork.

Residents of Oaklee Housing Association’s Tamar Court also took part in workshops. They created an east Belfast themed stained glass window to display in their communal area. Their memories of east Belfast inspired the design for the window which includes H&W crane, flax flowers, chains and ropes. Participants learned a number of new skills including how to cut and paint glass and their stained glass window was unveiled as part of the ‘Of the River’ launch celebrations today.

Speaking at the event Deirdre Robb, Visual Arts Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,“We are delighted that we were able to support the making of this artwork with National Lottery funds through our Public Art Programme. It’s been inspired by the input of local people and it celebrates the historic achievements of the community, so I’m sure this striking artwork will be a very welcome addition to the area and will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

“It is so exciting to see the artwork installed on these buildings with the support of the local community and businesses. ‘Of the River’ will kick-start the development of the Holywood Arches area alongside the new EastSide Visitor Centre and C.S. Lewis Civic Square, providing benefits for local businesses, visitors and the entire community” said Heather Chesney, East Belfast Partnership.

Speaking on the importance of art in the area, the artist Alan Burke commented, “Sculpture and art in general enhances one’s environment; not only in the obvious as something to look at, but also as a piece of a much larger jigsaw of community and shared spaces, that in time creates a history and a resonance to a building, town or street. ‘Of the River’ portrays the rich cultural and industrial heritage using the Connswater River as the storyteller. Working on this project and watching it develop has been extremely rewarding.”

You can see more pictures from today's event are on the CCG Facebook page.