Remember the Cornmarket bandstand? The landmark that took the bad look of the humorously coloured
Frazer (Fraser?) Frazer’s clothes shop. The bandstand that hosted school children singing tuneful and not-so-tuneful carols in the run up to Christmas each year. And the one that the council boarded up to make it look like a big pot when they hosted cookery demonstrations inside.
Well, it was pulled down a while back, and the Department of Social Development is running a public vote as part of its Streets Ahead project to let us all decide which shortlisted piece of public art should be erected in the space. Interestingly, it’s now referred to as Arthur Square, the space formerly known as Cornmarket.
You’ve a choice of ...
The Dancing Tree - five wobbly pillars, like upside-down wind chimes, representing a hollow oak tree, acting as a meeting place as well as a backdrop for occasional drama. The top of the pillars will rotate and swing in the wind, and a spotlight in the pavement will “attract the flâneurs from different directions”.
Phoenix Rising - a big spoon sticking out of the ground, representing Belfast’s renaissance, “a Phoenix Rising that sweeps the ground and spirals up to reach into the sky”. As a landmark and beacon, it too will support street performance, as its “oval seat becomes a perfect mini-amphitheatre”.
Spirit of Belfast - four curved stainless steel squiggles, complete with “a ribbon of light provided by very energy-efficient light emitting diodes” whose “intensity, color [sic] and movement will be programmed as called for by events, the time of day ... or special celebrations within the city”. It intends to become “the hearth of our city centre”, drawing people to its interactivity as it weaves together steel and reminds of us of the fabric (linen) of our history.
(No sign of an option for a new improved bandstand, so looks like the primary school kids will be getting wet next Christmas. I’d love to meet the Public Art Selection Jury that assessed the twenty applicants, and whittled down the eight long-listed concept sketch designs to the final three. According to the Victoria Square newsletter, the jury is made up of “representatives from DSD, Belfast City Council, The Planning Service, Multi Development, EDAW, Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Belfast City Centre Management, Arts Council NI and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure” and they selected the final three “using criteria of artistic quality, deliverability and cost.”)
There’s £200k at stake - the budget allocated for this public art - so we better take this seriously. The online poll opened today, and runs until November 4. You can also vote in person at the Lagan Lookout (beside the Big Fish) and see the exhibition between 11am–4pm (Monday to Friday) and 11am–2pm (Saturday).
Update: The squiggle won!