Belfast area described as 'hopeless' by Rihanna set to blossom
The area of north Belfast branded a "hopeless place" by Rihanna when she shot a hit video there is set for a wildflower makeover this summer.
The pop superstar filmed much of the footage for her 2011 hit We Found Love in the New Lodge, an inner city "concrete jungle" dominated by tower blocks.
But now, as part of an environmental initiative led by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, young people and residents will clear away weeds and plant an arrangement of native wildflowers.
Stephanie Baine, Northern Ireland manager for organisers Grow Wild, said: "Grow Wild is all about bringing people together to brighten up forgotten spaces, and that is what is happening here, which shows the New Lodge is definitely not a hopeless place."
A local community group has received money from the organisation- a project supported by the Big Lottery Fund - for the flower-planting scheme, which is aimed at giving the area a lasting makeover. The project will see volunteers behind the Sow Wild New Lodge Community Garden redevelop a disused and overgrown communal space.
Gerard Rosato, who is helping to run the project, said: "People are conscious that this area is a bit of a concrete jungle. North Belfast is very densely built up, there is a housing shortage and nearly anything that can be built on has been built on. Any areas which can be transformed like this should be well looked after. My hope is that when this is a success, we can get other, similar schemes off the ground and continue to spruce up the area."
The New Lodge project is one of 12 community initiatives across Northern Ireland to have been awarded funding of between £1,000 and £4,000 by Grow Wild to transform their areas.
Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland director, said: "We are looking forward to seeing how the wildflowers and plants will change this under-used space and make it a place that local people want to use."
As well as filming in north Belfast, Rihanna shot part of the video for We Found Love in a muddy barley field near Bangor, Co Down. But when she stripped to a bikini after removing a long, checked dress, the sight became too much for landowner Alan Graham's Christian beliefs, and he politely asked that filming be stopped.
We Found Love became a UK number one for Rihanna. The video' depicted the Bajan singer as a drug-abusing thrill-seeker in a relationship that quickly spiralled into addiction and violence.
It was named video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2012.