Friday, September 16, 2011

The day they buried a time-capsule in the middle of Broadway Roundabout - RISE is complete


Today marks the end of chain of posts and a fascination I've had with the plans to erect a sculpture in the middle of Broadway Roundabout. Back in 2007 I mentioned on the blog that as part of the project to create the Westlink underpass, Ed Carpenter had won a public art commission with Trillian - a 45m tall wild flower (representing a post-Troubles city) to be built in the middle of the roundabout.

Pylon in middle of Broadway roundabout

The electricity pylon that used to occupy the overgrown space was removed. But due to the rising cost of steel, the competition was reopened.

Second time around, Wolfgang Buttress won with RISE - his iconic image of two globes resting on a bed of reeds which are fondly referred to locally as the Balls on the Falls, or the Westicles.

After much delay, work started on the project last winter. You can watch a superb time-lapse video on the building process. (I love the way that the circus arrives arcoss the road about 2 minutes 35 seconds into the video!)

Arts Council of Northern Ireland Roísín McDonough and Lord Mayor Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile helping bury the time capsule under RISE on Broadway Roundabout

At lunchtime today, a time capsule was buried under RISE. Less buried, more sunk into the mud.

In truly awful weather, Belfast's Lord Mayor Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile bravely stepped into a dodgy photo opportunity and helped school children from the local area tip earth over the sealed capsule.

Having interviewed Wolfgang Buttress at a public meeting last November, I caught up with him again today after the watery ceremony to ask him about his creation.

He spoke very warmly about the steel fabricators - M Hasson and Sons Ltd in Rasharkin - who also assembled the sculpture, and he confirmed that they are now working with him on further projects. A success story for local business.

Of the £486,000 budget for this piece of public art, 85% was spent in Northern Ireland. Ratepayers will want to know that £56,000 came from Belfast City Council. Taxpayers will want to know that the Department for Social Development contributed £330,000. And lottery players will want to know that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland were able to give £100,000 via Lottery funding.

school uniform in RISE time capsule

One council official suggested that they should sell snow globes with models of RISE inside in the Welcome Centre!

In twenty five years time - if anyone remembers where the capsule was buried - the citizens of Belfast will discover messages from the local children expressing what they hope to be doing in 2036, along with school ties and sweatshirts from the participating schools. They'll marvel at the smell of damp, the way some of the clothing was obviously shoved into the capsule, and wonder why the Belfastians of 2011 didn't roll up the length of greaseproof paper the children had written on a bit more neatly.

Children's writing - part of the RISE time capsule

Maybe they'll look up what's left of the old internet, find this post, and discover that before it was buried, and before the dignitaries arrived from the nearby Olympia Leisure Centre, the media had opened up the carefully packed capsule in the rain and hoked through it looking for choice footage for that day's news bulletins ...

Wolfgang Buttress' letter in the RISE time capsul

Future historians will also be able to read the full contents of Wolfgang Buttress' letter inside the capsule in which he describes the pride he felt about the project and learn about the "wonderful people" he met.

They may also reflect on his frustrations with "red tape and Kafkaesque rules and regulations". Building a 37.5m tall sculpture weighting the equivalent of six double decker buses in the middle of a cramped busy roundabout was not a bed of roses.

Update - the Council have been in touch to explain that the 'contents of the time capsule have to be treated and vacuum sealed before it is finally sealed and buried' - which should give them time to remove any creases from the papers, and refold the school sweatshirts neatly ... and maybe even drop in a DVD copy of timelapse of RISE being constructed!

1 comment:

Allan Leonard said...

Good reportage, Alan. You should add the share links (FB, Twitter) to your blog template and try out a redesign with Blogger template designer (just saying!).