Belfast & Northern Ireland

Belfast Public Art: Not a Mural in Sight

more than a year ago

Here is a selection of our favourite apolitical sculptures dotted throughout the city centre...

The Big Fish (aka Salmon of Knowledge): A 10m long, erm, fish whose shiny blue and white ceramic scales depict moments in Belfast's history. Find it at the Lagan Lookout, near the Titanic Boat office and departure point.

Ring of Thanksgiving: Meet Belfast's tallest resident, a 15m high steel woman standing on a bronze globe and holding a ring representing peace and reconciliation - a familiar theme throughout the city. The work is inspired by Dallas's Thanksgiving Square and towers over the River Lagan, a short walk from the Belfast Waterfront. It has laterally been dubbed Nuala with the Hula, The Doll on the Ball and rather less salubriously The Hoor with the Hoop. 

Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker: Outside the Great Northern Mall (front entrance to the Europa Buscentre) you'll find two lifesize ladies cast in bronze and brandishing ephemera representing low-paid jobs, including housework. Look for the typewriter, telephone and clothes hangar and ponder their plight.

Mapping History: 1200 ceramic tiles individually designed by Cathedral Quarter visitors and businesses and brought together by artist Eleanor Wheeler. Find it outside 2Taps Spanish restaurant opposite the Cathedral Quarter's Merchant Hotel.

Voyage of St. Brendan: Look up at a wall on Garmoyle Street and see a sparkly mural depicting St. Brendan’s discovery of America. Its 'Sailortown' setting, once the thriving hub of the city's docklands, couldn't be more appropriate.

The Flying Angel: A gleaming bronze and stainless steel angel reaches out from the bow of a ship built at the side of the Mission to Seafarers building. The figure is the symbol of the Seafarers' Mission, a religious charity set up in the 18th Century to provide sailors with shelter and comfort. Find it at Prince's Dock Street, off Pilot Street and just north of Clarendon Dock.

The Speaker: At the front of Custom House, in an area once dubbed Belfast's Speakers' Corner, stands this aptly-named lifesize bronze statue. The Square's surrounding copper lights continue the theme with their nickname the 'Hecklers'.

Renewal: Around the corner from Custom House Square, beside the fountain and beneath the Albert Clock, is this red and silver sculpture. Commissioned by vodka brand Smirnoff, the piece is said to reflect Russian history, imperialism, Russian dolls, the sabre and Faberge’s priceless eggs.

Sheep on the Road: A flock of bronze bleeters parades outside the Belfast Waterfront and provides small children, and precarious adults, with an impromptu seating area. And for that they must thank artist Deborah Brown who was inspired by her childhood memories of Co. Antrim's Cushendun.

Spirit of Belfast: Unveiled in Sept. 2009, this large-scale steel structure looms large in Cornmarket, where a bandstand once stood. The four interlocking rings sit at the heart of the city centre's pedestrianised shopping area, and have been designed to reflect Belfast's erstwhile shipbuilding and linen industries. All good and well, but we prefer to call it the Belfast Scribble.

Draft and Overdraft: The official title of these (now-closed) Ulster Bank behemoths is Flying Figures, but we much prefer this cheeky financial moniker. The larger-than-life cast aluminium creatures were installed in 1964 and can be seen at the junction of Great Victoria Street and the Dublin Road.

To see more of the city's public art, click here.

And if you do want to know more about Belfast's Murals, read here.


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