WISH is The UK & Ireland's Largest Land Art Portrait and was commissioned by the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s for their 2013 Festival, created by international artist by Jorge Rodriguez Gerada. It is a portrait of an anonymous local girl photographed by the artist in the process of making a pure and simple wish for the future, spanning 11 acres at Titanic Quarter Belfast using only natural materials and cutting edge satellite technology. It was developed in partnership with the city of Belfast and its people, bringing together local businesses, community groups, artists and volunteers with a shared vision who volunteered with the artist in its installation. It was one huge team effort .... In fact it took 30,000 wooden stakes, 2,000 tonnes of sand and 2,000 tonnes of top soil, hundreds of volunteer hours and just 4 weeks to complete on of the largest realistic portraits the world has ever seen. Local businesses donated expertise, materials, tools, machinery, staff, soil, sand and stones all free of charge and the land was donated by Titanic Quarter Limited and the Titanic Foundation. The scale and ambition behind this project captured the imagination of the public and media alike during the Festival last October and it was profiled right across the world from America, and Africa to Australia. WISH was also voted as one of the world's top satellite images for 2013 by Digital Globe and the reveal video and more information can be viewed below.
In 2013 the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s presented over 70 different performances in venues in the North, South, East and West of the City. Director, Richard Wakely was thrilled to be opening with such a land-mark piece of work,
“To present a piece of this quality and magnitude is staggering and provides a unique way to open this year’s Festival. It is a free event that has enabled us to work closely with local businesses and volunteers and it is their commitment that has made it happen. We have 11 days of entertainment on offer throughout Belfast from 24 different countries with theatre, dance, visual arts, film and music filling spaces in all corners of the city. It is our Wish that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it.”
Wish was created in close partnership with the local community. Local firms such as McLaughlin & Harvey, PT McWilliams and Lagan Construction Group provided materials, tools, machinery, staff and soil. Sand was provided by Tobermore and lime stone by Kilwaughter Lime - all free of charge. The land was donated by the Titanic Quarter Limited, the project headquarters was provided by The Dock Café, the viewing platforms were provide free of charge by W5, Belfast Metropolitan College, and Titanic Belfast. Plus, a core team worked alongside a host of community volunteers from groups such as NOW to provide hundreds of hours of their time to make it happen. Other support was provided by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Titanic Foundation Limited and a major contribution from TOPCON who provided the GPS poles, technical support and training.
Artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada has produced similar pieces all over the world but is especially connected to his largest project to date in Belfast,
“I have created work in the States and all over Europe but this piece in Belfast has been a different experience for me. The people have been overwhelming in their support and belief in the concept. When I first started on this work it was only five acres but it grew both emotionally and physically. Now, at 11 acres, it is my largest piece and I believe this magnitude is a fitting tribute to a city which has so much positivity to offer.”
Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland reflected on the community nature of this opening event, “It’s encouraging to see so many people, businesses and organisations who have volunteered their time and resources to be part of this collaborative and ambitious land art project. It is very fitting that a project which encouraged participation in the arts and is accessible to all opens this year’s Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s"
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland reflected on the magnitude of the project, "The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is a truly international celebration bringing together arts and creativity from across the world under one cultural umbrella. Wish is an inspirational and ambitious piece of public art that combines strong community spirit with contemporary arts practice - a union which is reflected throughout this year’s festival programme. It is a most fitting opening event.”
The 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s would not have been possible without the continuing support of various public and private sponsors, including Ulster Bank, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the EU, Queen’s University Belfast and the British Council. Plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.
The 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from Thursday 16th October - Saturday 1st November. Find out more by clicking here.