Belfast Telegraph

Video: Unique 'jigsaw' artwork brings together cultural and industrial heritage of east Belfast

By Kirsten Elder

‘Of the River’ artwork was officially launched today in East Belfast as part of the regeneration project and construction of The Connswater Community Greenway C.S. Lewis Civic Square.

This event went side by side with the unveiling of an East Belfast themed stained glass window created by six enthusiastic residents at Oaklee Housing Association’s Tamar Court.

The unique artwork ‘Of the River’ was created by artist Alan Burke who wanted to represent a timeline of the local area, from past to present and he used the Connswater River as the focal point.

The four pieces are located on buildings at Townsley and Manderson Street at Holywood Arches, at the heart of East Belfast.

Artist Alan Burke said: “Sculpture and art in general enhances one’s environment, not only in the obvious as something to look at, but also as a piece of a much larger jigsaw of community and shared spaces, that in time creates a history and a resonance to a building, town or street. ‘Of the River’ portrays the rich cultural and industrial heritage using the Connswater River as the storyteller. Working on this project and watching it develop has been extremely rewarding.”

East Belfast Partnership successfully secured National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to create a piece of art to improve the appearance of the area ahead of the construction of the C.S. Lewis Civic Square.

Belfast’s industrial past is represented in Alan’s artwork through flax flowers, ropes, chains, a shipyard worker and a Harland & Wolff crane.  His artwork also celebrates East Belfast as the birthplace of writer C.S. Lewis and famous lion Aslan can be found here.

The artwork has been made from sheet metal, corten steel and stainless steel, with coloured cast resin. The artwork will fade over time and start to turn a ‘rusty’ colour to depict our industrial past and changing society.

This project got the community involved and young people from the Walkway Community Association and East Belfast Area Youth Project helped to choose different images, symbols and words that represented East Belfast to them.

Deirdre Robb, Visual Arts Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“We are delighted that we were able to support the making of this artwork with National Lottery funds through our Public Art Programme. It’s been inspired by the input of local people and it celebrates the historic achievements of the community, so I’m sure this striking artwork will be a very welcome addition to the area and will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

 “It is so exciting to see the artwork installed on these buildings with the support of the local community and businesses. ‘Of the River’ will kick-start the development of the Holywood Arches area alongside the new EastSide Visitor Centre and C.S. Lewis Civic Square, providing benefits for local businesses, visitors and the entire community” said Heather Chesney, East Belfast Partnership.”

For more information visit:, from Facebook at /EastBelfastPartnership and Twitter @EastBelP

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