Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Caging sculpture isn't showing right spirit

At the weekend in the city centre, I noticed that Cornmarket's impressive Scalextric-style artwork The Spirit of Belfast had been fenced off from the public.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I've always felt this was one of the ugliest eyesores we've ever paid money for in this town.

On the plus side however, it did serve as a gathering place for various and varied groupings. The street preachers used it as a backdrop with their happy clappy tunes blasting forth to passing trade.

And dancing youth used it as a practice ground. Aesthetically the actual artwork may not have lifted the hearts of passers-by but there was something heart-warming about the sight of so many kids, sounds systems throbbing, practising their moves for peer approval while the Bible-thumping teams rattled away in comfortable proximity.

At least you could say it served some sort of public purpose. But what now?

I'm not sure if the fencing-off I saw at the weekend is a temporary measure because maintenance work is required.

But it would be sad if it was a sign that the thing is now going to be permanently wired off.

In fairness, maybe there's some sort of health and safety concern. Dancing teenagers, sharp edges, council property ... .

You can see how the exterior fencing could be stacking up there.

But how typical of this place if those wire barriers are going to stay put.

The Spirit of Belfast - out of bounds to the public?

Very spirit of Belfast ... .

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