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Public Art in Belfast

The physical landscape of Belfast has been transformed over recent years, helped by an ever increasing variety of public art. With over 150 pieces of public art in and around the city, take a look at some of our highlights including The Big Fish, The Beacon of Hope, Rise and Origin.


The Salmon of Knowledge

Donegall Quay, Belfast City Centre
John Kindness, 1999
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Affectionately know as The Big Fish, this 10-metre long salmon was created by one of Northern Ireland’s best known artists, John Kindness and has become iconic in Belfast. Situated in front of the Charles Lanyon designed Victorian Custom House, the fish is covered in printed ceramic tiles decorated with text and images relating to the history of Belfast, and also contains a time capsule storing information, images and poetry on the city. Read more >>

Beacon of Hope

Thanksgiving Square, Belfast City Centre
Andy Scott, 2006
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The Thanksgiving Statue is a metal sculpture by Andy Scott, rising 19.5 metres high over the banks of the River Lagan. Characteristic of Belfast, the structure has picked up several nicknames including Nuala with the Hula, the Doll on the Ball and the Thing with the Ring. It is currently the second largest public art sculpture in Belfast, after Rise on Broadway Roundabout, and is based on Thanksgiving Square in Dallas, Texas. Read more >>

The Masts

Donegall Place, Belfast City Centre
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As part of the Belfast: Streets Ahead public realm improvement project, these eight feature lighting masts were installed on Donegall Place in 2010 and 2011. Designed to create a historical context to the area, Belfast's industrial heritage, linen industry and maritime traditions are all reflected in the masts, which are clad in copper and over 16 metres high.

Each mast commemorates one of the great White Star Line ships built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff. Names of the vessels, in order of their position from Belfast City Hall, are Titanic, Olympic, Oceanic, Britannic, Laurentic, Celtic, Nomadic and Traffic.

The Searcher- CS Lewis

Upper Newtownards Road, east Belfast
Ross Wilson, 1998
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Unveiled on the centenary of CS Lewis’ birth, The Searcher sculpture by Northern Irish artist Ross Wilson is based on Digory Kirke, one of the characters from the Narnia story, The Magician’s Nephew. Through this magical wardrobe the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, enter Narnia and meet the talking animals and mythological creatures that populate that snowbound world. 

The Searcher is modelled on Belfast-born CS Lewis as he was in 1919, and in the words of the artist, the sculpture tries to capture the “great ideas of sacrifice, redemption, victory, and freedom for the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve” that lie at the heart of the Chronicles of Narnia.

CS Lewis Square

Upper Newtownards Road, east Belfast
Maurice Harron, 2016
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Some of the most famous characters from the books of CS Lewis are celebrated in an east Belfast garden dedicated to the author. CS Lewis Square features seven sculptures based on characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe including Aslan, Maugrim, Mr and Mrs Beaver, the Robin, the White Witch, the Stone Table and Mr Tumnus. CS Lewis spent the first ten years of this life in Belfast, and many of the people and places he encountered influenced his early work. Rediscover The Chronicles of Narnia with a walk around the garden where Irish artist Maurice Harron has created the sculptures to form a magical public space. Read more >>

RISE

Broadway Roundabout, Westlink
Wolfgang Buttress, 2011
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This is the biggest piece of public art sculpture in Belfast, and unmissable on the M1 motorway, gateway to the city. The sculpture's two globes, cast in white steel, symbolise the rising of the sun and new hope for Belfast's future. At over 37 metres high and 30 metres in diameter, RISE is visable for miles around the city.

Kit

Titanic Quarter
Tony Stallard, 2009
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Kit, in the Titanic Quarter, is a dramatic sculpture cast in bronze. The air fix style artwork depicts recognisable elements of the Titanic on an outer frame. The giant modelling kit uses scale replicas of the famous ship's component parts and recreates the legendary liner beside the Abercorn Basin, near where the real ship was built. Read more >>

The Seahorse

Dargan Road
Ralf Sander, 2013
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The Seahorse sculpture was commissioned to record the 400th anniversary of the first quay to be granted and constructed in the city, on High Street in 1613. Reflecting Belfast's maritime heritage, The Seahorse rests on an enlarged shipping bollard and stands at eight metres high. The sculpture has strong connections to Belfast’s origins, with the city’s first merchants printing seahorses on their coins throughout the 17th century, and the two seahorses which appear on the city's coat of arms. 

Buoy Park

Cathedral Gardens, Belfast City Centre
Gifted to Belfast City Council, 1980s

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The buoys have sat as public works of art at Cathedral Gardens beside St Anne's Cathedral since the 1980s, a gift to the city in recognition of our maritime history. The Buoys have become such distinct landmarks of the area that the location is informally known as Buoy Park.

Yardmen

Dr Pitt Memorial Park, Newtownards Road, east Belfast
Ross Wilson, 2012
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East Belfast was an industrial powerhouse in the 19th and much of the 20th century. With over 30,000 men were employed at the Harland & Wolff shipyard, The Yardmen statue celebrates the east Belfast workers who built Titanic and many other great ships. Unveiled on 28 March 2012, just days before the centenary of Titanic leaving Belfast, the three Yardmen reflect the great pride the people of east Belfast have in their community and its world famous achievements. Read more >>

Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker

Europa Bus Station, Belfast City Centre
Louise Walsh, 1992
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Built in 1992 by Louise Walsh in Belfast, the artist chose to focus on the women's rights issues of low-paid jobs and unpaid housework. This artwork will be the first many visitors to the city will see as it is at the entrance to the Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street Train Station.

Origin

Squire's Hill in Cave Hill Country Park
Solas Creative, 2016
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Belfast's newest piece of public art was unveiled as part of the 2016 Culture Night celebrations. The 11 metre tall structure is Belfast's highest positioned sculpture, overlooking the city from Cave Hill Country Park. The crowning six metre tall raindrop is made from polished stainless steel arcs which rest on a plinth. Inside the teardrop, a fin of Narima glass gives the structure a reflective and colourful quality. After dark, Origin is illuminated by a soft white light and is visible at a number of points throughout the city.

Sammy the seal

Donegall Quay, Belfast City Centre
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Regeneration of Donegall Quay has created a public space for locals and visitors to relax beside the River Lagan, where you'll find Sammy the Seal. The nickname for the seals that frequent the estuary of Belfast Lough, discover three bronze seals that can be seen popping their heads above the paving stones, mimicking the real family of seals who have moved into the estuary.

Sheep on the Road

Belfast Waterfront, Belfast City Centre
Deborah Brown, 1991
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Deborah Brown’s rugged sculptures showing a man herding sheep looks out of place in their cosmopolitan surroundings outside the Belfast Waterfront. However, it is an echo of times gone by, when the area was home to a livestock market which once bustled with rural life.

The Speaker

Custom House Square, Belfast City Centre
Gareth Knowles, 2005
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Custom House Square was an important area to trade in Belfast, causing the Custom House to be built 1854‐1857. In the square you'll see the Albert Clock, Calder Fountain and McHugh’s Bar, dating from the 17th century. The steps of the Custom House were used as a speakers’ corner during the 19th century, often with significant crowds gathering in the Square. The statue stands at the foot of the steps where public speakers and evangelists used to speak, and includes bronze footsteps on the ground in front, suggesting crowds of supporters, or hecklers.

Spirit of Belfast 

Cornmarket, Belfast City Centre
Dan George, 2009
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This large-scale steel structure looms where a bandstand once stood with four interlocking rings. Situated in the heart of the city centre's pedestrianised shopping area, it was designed to reflect Belfast's former shipbuilding and linen industries.

ECO

McClay Library, Queen's University Belfast
Marc Didou, 2009
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The 2.5 metres tall statue outside the McClay Library at Queen's University Belfast was created by the Breton artist Marc Didou. The bronze piece features the reflection of a head refracted in water using digital imaging, mimicking the sonic echo used in MRI.