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Tele Recommends: Northern Ireland's best public art

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Kim Mawhinney is the head of Art for National Museums Northern Ireland, based at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra. She curates the art collections of the National Museums and also lectures and researches different collections.

What is Tele Recommends?

Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best pieces of public art, she recommends...

Sculpture for Derry Walls, 1987, Antony Gormley, Derry

Before Gormley’s remarkable Angel of the North and the transitory One & Other, his Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square, Declan McGonigle, then Director of Derry's Orchard Gallery, had the foresight to work with him on a permanent sculpture for Derry's Walls. It was Gormley's first outdoor public artwork and we should be proud that it is sited in Northern Ireland.

The Big Fish, 1999, John Kindness, Belfast

This wonderful sculpture celebrates the regeneration of the River Lagan. Kindness' artwork cleverly captures historic aspects of Belfast and the specific views of its situation — its two eyes show images of upstream and downstream on the Lagan. It is close to my heart as I helped Kindness source the images for the tiles from the Ulster Museum's collections.

Street art, present day, across Northern Ireland

In 2011 we had a major street art exhibition at the Ulster Museum which included works by Banksy, Shepard Fairey and local street artists. Since then I have become fascinated by how ingenious street art can be, especially during the annual Culture Night which sees the streets of Belfast, in particular Lower North and Lower Donegall Streets, transformed into urban canvases.

Flying Figures, 1963, Dame Elizabeth Frink, Belfast

These cast aluminium figures high up on the side of the former Ulster Bank in Shaftesbury Square were commissioned by architects Houston and Beaumont and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. They are magnificent examples of post war sculpture by one of the most celebrated and internationally famous female sculptors of the time.

Global Journeys, 2006, Chris Wilson, Newcastle, Co Down

This enormous stainless steel sphere reflects the surrounding natural world of sea, mountains and sky. The mirrored surface allows the public to engage and interact directly with the sculpture, allowing them to create their own image within the globe. This artwork also forms part of a sculpture trail along the Newcastle seafront.

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