Belfast Telegraph

New artwork at Hillsborough Castle is feast for human eye

Artist John Kindness at a private viewing of an exhibition of his work in the Clore Learning Centre
Artist John Kindness at a private viewing of an exhibition of his work in the Clore Learning Centre
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Artwork created by the man behind Belfast's 'Big Fish' has been unveiled for a new community space at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.

John Kindness, who is best known for the officially-named Salmon of Knowledge sculpture in the city centre, has named his new creation A Mummer's Banquet.

It is comprised of seven large painted aluminium panels, the final effect being a six-metre-long frieze of striking, fantastical characters, which will hang across the walls of the new Clore Learning Centre at the castle. Belfast-born John, who was commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the castle, said it is difficult to put the inspiration behind his new work into words.

He explained: "If you imagine a procession of figures made up from Damask linen, a load of Lough Neagh pollan and eels, some silverware and crystal glass, stoneware pottery, Portavogie prawns, oysters, champ, a hare and a wild duck, William of Orange, James II, Benjamin Franklin, Lord Grey, Joey Dunlop, Dunlop Tyres, Cyril Lord carpet, Irish whiskey, a gun, a drum and a fishing rod, a big fish, some fish fingers and an Ulster fry. Well, there's all that and more at A Mummer's Banquet."

The large artwork, which expresses the fascinating history of hospitality and entertaining at Hillsborough through the centuries, is also inspired by the stories and objects that the artist gathered during his time spent at the castle with staff, residents of the town and six local community groups.

The community groups, together with writer Maeve O'Lynn and artist Hannah Shepherd, explored the same theme through a series of workshops hosted at the castle and their texts and images will also be on display in the Clore Learning Centre.

Shan McAnena, public engagement manager at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, said they are looking forward to visitors engaging with and enjoying this work for years to come.

The new Clore Learning Centre - which will host schools and community programmes throughout the year - is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and has been funded with support from The Clore Duffield Foundation.

Following a five-year, £24m transformation project, visitors are now able to explore the rich heritage of Hillsborough Castle through guided tours led by a team of experts.

Visitors are also invited to discover 100 acres of breathtaking gardens, including the majestic four-acre Walled Garden.

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