Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

How Belfast got stuck in to make artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada's Wish come true

Belfast Festival's first artist in residence creates UK and Ireland's largest land art portrait

Jorge's 11-acre land art portrait  viewed from the air. Titanic Belfast can be seen on the right of the picture, Abercorn Basin is on the left, and the SS Nomadic is just visible at the bottom
Jorge's 11-acre land art portrait viewed from the air. Titanic Belfast can be seen on the right of the picture, Abercorn Basin is on the left, and the SS Nomadic is just visible at the bottom
Spectacular sight: Jorge's huge artwork in Belfast's dockland
Artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, left, is pictured with Richard Wakely, Festival Director
Aerial view - Wish by Jorge RodríguezGerada
Aerial view - Wish by Jorge RodríguezGerada
Aerial view - Wish by Jorge RodríguezGerada
Aerial view - Wish by Jorge RodríguezGerada
Aerial view - Wish by Jorge RodríguezGerada
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

The official unveiling of an amazing 11-acre land art portrait of a girl making a wish has opened this year's Belfast Festival at Queen's.

Around 30,000 wooden pegs, 2,000 tonnes of soil, 2,000 tonnes of sand, plus grass, stones, string, and lots of elbow grease has gone into Wish – the UK and Ireland's largest land art portrait.

Located in the Titanic Quarter of the city, the portrait based on a photograph of an anonymous six-year-old Belfast girl, is best seen by helicopter, drone or when on a plane arriving into the city.

The public artwork will be in place until December 2013 with viewings from Titanic Belfast and other adjacent buildings in the area.

At Titanic Belfast yesterday, Wish creator, Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, told the Belfast Telegraph the project has been 18 months in the making, with one month for production – thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers.

Jorge, who is the Belfast Festival's first artist in residence, said: "Wish wasn't something that just got presented, it was a process.

"Getting to know the city on multiple trips and letting the creative flow helped bring the image to me of what I wanted to do.

"I told them it was going to be based on what kind of feedback we got from the city.

"This is not a project I wanted to do based on throwing money at it, but based on a collaboration with the city, using different entities within the city, from major construction companies like McLaughlin Harvey to the fire brigade.

"It's a very large mix, a lot of people, a lot of volunteers, a lot of really dedicated workers that gave a month of their time."

Spectacular sight: Jorge's huge artwork in Belfast's dockland
Spectacular sight: Jorge's huge artwork in Belfast's dockland

Jorge told the Belfast Telegraph he has enjoyed getting to know Belfast over the last 18 months.

"Belfast is an amazing city," he said. "What I wanted to do was make a universal statement, which would go beyond Belfast."

Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council, called Wish "an inspirational and ambitious piece of public art that combines strong community spirit with contemporary arts practice".

Ellvena Graham, head of festival sponsors Ulster Bank, added: "It's encouraging to see so many people, businesses and organisations who have volunteered their time and resources to be part of this collaborative and ambitious land art project."

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 17th - 27th October

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Capricorn:

This is a wonderful opportunity to develop a creative project. Keep a notebook where you can store images, ideas, phrases and melodies that pop into your mind at odd intervals. This treasure trove will help you blast through blocks that held you prisoner in the past. It will also help to devote a set time each day to artistic pursuits. Exercising your imagination on a regular basis will cultivate contentment. There's more to you than your job title.More