Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Belfast City Hospital puts one man and his dog in the frame

One man and his dog have become part of the furniture at Belfast City Hospital. A mural capturing community spirit has been unveiled in the foyer of the hospital.

The artwork, created by patients, visitors and staff, shows two of the hospital’s most famous residents embodied in the mural.

The mural features the image of a local resident George Donaldson and his dog, Benji, who together have come to symbolise the Belfast City Hospital’s community spirit.

The artwork was unveiled last month by Dr Robert Cuthbert, consultant haematologist, and chairperson of the Belfast City Hospital Arts Care committee.

Many people attended the unveiling due to the popularity of the two characters embodied in the artwork.

Part-funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the project intends to highlight the significance of the comfort and care that the hospital provides.

Every morning for 15 years, George and Benji would walk to the hospital. Together they would greet the staff arriving for work. George would spend the mornings chatting to staff and patients, while Benji was pampered with belly rubs and treats.

Both characters added colour, personality to the hospital, becoming very popular with staff and patients at Belfast City Hospital.

The new artwork, designed by Arts Care artist-in-residence Andrea Spencer, and constructed of coloured glass and ceramic tiles, depicts George and Benji together and aims to capture and celebrate that sense of |community that thrives within the hospital.

“Ultimately, the image symbolises humanity, and promotes a message of comfort, and caring within the walls of Belfast City Hospital,” she said.

Andrea ran a series of tile-making workshops last October in the City Hospital tower foyer and the Macmillan Support and Information Centre.

The workshops allowed patients, staff and visitors to contribute to the project by leaving their own unique message on one of 400 clay tiles which surround the piece.

George was also involved with the creation of the artwork, visiting on a weekly basis, where he helped to roll out clay tiles and talked to people about the project as it was being |created.

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