A major new piece of public art was unveiled on Friday,16 September, to coincide with Culture Night 2016. ‘Origin’ will become the highest positioned sculpture in Belfast, overlooking the city from Squire’s Hill in Cavehill Country Park.
The unveiling of the 11 metre high sculpture marks the culmination of Creative Belfast, a partnership initiative between Belfast City Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which invested £900,000 in seven large scale projects showcasing the city’s cultural heritage.
Conceived by Solas Creative artist team Patricia Crossey, Tracey McVerry, Gerard Loughran and Niall Loughran with input from local communities, ‘Origin’ formed a key part of the Farset Project. This cross-community partnership between Cultúrlann and the Spectrum Centre celebrated the river that gave rise to the city of Belfast.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell said: “Our Creative Belfast initiative in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland was all about investing in big, bold and ambitious cultural projects which would give everyone in Belfast the opportunity to take part in high-quality culture, inspired by our rich heritage. It was also founded on close cultural and community partnership. And I’m delighted that Origin will be a beautiful legacy. It celebrates the source of the Farset River and all of the people who have helped make Belfast great. I’m looking forward to seeing many more visitors coming to enjoy the sculpture and exploring this stunning area of our city”.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Arts Council, as a national lottery distributor and joint funder of the Creative Belfast Programme, aimed to increase access to great art for people across Belfast. Public money makes things possible that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. In the hands of artists a remarkable and defining legacy has been created for Belfast city through this piece of public art. Origin gives us a suitably powerful and inspiring statement about the scale and the influence that this river has had on generations of people’s lives and livelihoods in Belfast and I hope many, many people come to enjoy it.”
Tracey McVerry from Solas Creative explains the sculpture’s concept: “The importance of the Farset River, and the life force which it gives to the people of Belfast is portrayed in the form of a granite ‘ripple’ at the sculpture’s base. Everything radiates out from the centre, just as a drop hits the water surface. The ripples represent the linen industry, foundries, the hard working communities that built and shaped Belfast.
“The six meter tall raindrop, made from polished stainless steel arcs, appears to hover six meters above the ground on a brushed stainless steel plinth and represents the elegant flow of water. Then, nestled inside the raindrop, is a fin of Narima glass, giving an ethereal quality and animating the external structure with elements of spectral colour, movement, texture, reflection and refraction which continuously shifts with the changing light and creates an arc of energy reflected back to the viewer”.
At night time, Origin will be illuminated by a soft white glow, and the raindrop will appear to float, as if suspended in mid-air. It will be visible from a number of different points throughout the city.
£100,000 national lottery funding was invested in the design, creation, manufacture and installation of Origin. Its manufacture used four square meters of toughened Narima glass, 200 meters of stainless steel, 250 kilos of glass, three tonnes of steel and two tonnes of granite.