Stunning Narnia statues to grace new CS Lewis Square
That steely gaze, the relentless expression - it can only be the evil White Witch who bound Narnia in snow and ice for 100 years.
These are the first stunning images of the Narnian characters which will soon be gracing the new CS Lewis Square in the heart of east Belfast.
The seven sculptures, which will eventually become a key hub in the centre of the Connswater Community Greenway, are currently under construction at the Co Donegal studio of artist Maurice Harron, who was commissioned by Belfast City Council to build them.
Eventually, visitors to the square, close to Holywood Arches, will be greeted by characters from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, including the White Witch, Mr Tumnus, Robin, and Mr and Mrs Beaver.
One of the highlights will be a three-metre high bronze installation of Aslan the lion, who was voiced in one of the films by our own Liam Neeson.
The broken stone table where he met his fate at the hands of the White Witch has been constructed from Co Down granite.
The other sculptures are all in bronze, except for the White Witch and her head of secret police, the wolf Maugrim, who will both be finished in stainless steel.
The new plaza is a short walk from The Searcher, the sculpture outside the library at Holywood Arches which depicts CS Lewis opening the wardrobe door.
It is estimated that the pieces could be in place in the new plaza as early as late summer next year, creating an eye-catching focal point in the area.
The sculptures will be located on drumlins within the square, and enhanced with seasonal planting and individual LED lighting similar to that already in place at another key Greenway location, the Sam Thompson Bridge in Victoria Park.
Story panels will encourage visitors to read more about the characters and their creator.
The area around the planned civic square already boosts strong links to Lewis, who was born in Dundela Avenue and grew up in nearby Strandtown.
The space is expected to host outdoor performances, markets and other events when it opens in late 2016.
Street furniture, interpretative signage and landscaping will also feature in the square, which will eventually link the Greenway sections already completed at Victoria and Orangefield Parks with works currently under way at Mersey Street, Orby Road and other locations across the east of the city.
Mr Harron, known for his acclaimed Reconciliation/Hands Across The Divide sculpture in Londonderry, said he was delighted to take on the challenge of recreating the magic of the Narnia books right on CS Lewis's own doorstep.
"These artworks will be central to the civic square and will provide a fitting tribute to one of Belfast's most famous sons," he added. "Their locations will reflect each character's role in the story, inviting visitors to 'turn the page' as they explore this new space."
The Connswater Community Greenway project has been developed by East Belfast Partnership and the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development's Rivers Agency, and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council, Rivers Agency and the Department for Social Development. All sections are expected to be completed by late 2016.