Published Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Belfast Harbour Chairman, Belfast’s Lord Mayor and sculptor Ralf Sander. (© Presseye)
An eight-metre high sculpture of a seahorse has been installed at Dargan Road, where it will be seen by thousands of daily visitors to the harbour at the port's busiest entrance.
The 'Belfast Seahorse' is the work of internationally acclaimed German sculptor and University of Ulster Reader Ralf Sander, whose portfolio includes major projects in South Korea, the US and Germany.
Made of polished stainless steel and resting on an enlarged shipping bollard, the sculpture is designed to reflect the surrounding environment like a "kaleidoscope".
A seahorse was chosen as it represents connections to the city's maritime history and links to the shipping industry.
The mythical seahorse, not to be confused with the real marine fish, has been a figure in mythology for thousands of years.
The first artistic use of seahorses, dates back over 2,000 years and depicts the chariot of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.
Belfast's first merchants printed the creature on their coins throughout the 17th century and it also forms part of Belfast's official crest. The city's Coat of Arms, dates back to 1890 and depicts two seahorses, a ship and a ship's bell, reflecting the city's strong relationship with its harbour.
Belfast Harbour Chairman, Len O'Hagan, was joined at Tuesday's unveiling by Belfast's Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, and sculptor Ralf Sander.
Speaking at the ceremony, 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.
Belfast is developing an impressive array of world-class public artworks and this investment by the Harbour has provided the people of the city with another fantastic landmark which we can all be proud of.
Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
Mayor Ó Muilleoir, added: "It will leave a lasting impression on the thousands of visitors who drive past it each day.
"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."
Among Ralf Sander's other projects are the 'Lady Bird Transformation' mirage at the Busan Film Centre in South Korea and the World Saving Machine at the Crane Arts Centre in Philadelphia.
The majority of the artwork's construction was carried out in South Korea due to unusual techniques used to shape and case the design.
"I like to play with double meanings. The Belfast Seahorse has the clarity of icons but its outlines make the familiar seem strange through unlikely shifts in form," Mr Sander explained.
"I think the concept is not following clichés of taste and style but there might be a little postmodernist spirit embedded in the concept. Casting stainless steel is still uncommon in large scale sculpture and we improved the technique.
"Dancing on an enlarged shipping bollard, the body of the Seahorse is the powerful spiral shape of a small twister. It also has the quality of a mirage as it is possible to recognise human profiles in the body if you look close enough.
"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."
© UTV News