Sculpture reflects maritime history
An eight metre tall seahorse sculpture reflecting Belfast's storied maritime history has been erected at the entrance to the city's port.
The stainless public artwork was commissioned by Belfast Harbour as part of its 400th anniversary celebrations.
For centuries, depictions of the ocean creature have been used in city imagery to symbolise its seafaring traditions.
It was printed on coins throughout the 17th century and two seahorses still have a place in Belfast's coat of arms.
The new sculpture, which has been installed on Dargan Road on the north side of Belfast Lough, was created by renowned German artists Ralf Sander, who is a reader in fine art at the University of Ulster.
Mr Sander joined Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir and Belfast Harbour chairman Len O'Hagan at the unveiling today.
"Given the myths and legends surrounding the Seahorse, I believe that the new sculpture has the potential to become a symbolic unifying 'mascot' for the people of Belfast," said the sculptor.
Mr O'Hagan said: "This landmark project represents a major investment in the cultural infrastructure of Belfast. We are extremely proud of the Harbour's contribution to the arts and we believe the Belfast Seahorse will very soon become one of the city's most iconic images.
"As well as the many close historical links to the city of Belfast and its emerging Port, there are a number of myths and legends surrounding the Seahorse which add to the mystique of the sculpture.
"Mr Sander and his team at the University of Ulster have invested a great deal of creative and physical energy in this project and I commend them on what is an inspirational piece of public art."
The mayor said the sculpture added to Belfast's "impressive array of world-class public artworks".
"It will leave a lasting impression on the thousands of visitors who drive past it each day," he added.
"The choice of a seahorse is particularly poignant, given the presence of two seahorses in the city's coat of arms to signify the maritime importance of Belfast. In myth and legend the seahorse stands for protection, recovery and health - traits which are welcome in our city as much as any other."