Well the answer, which has been much more coherently reported on by other bloggers and media sources such as AlanInBelfast, the BBC and The Belfast Telegraph; is that this is the ‘Spirit of Belfast, a big steel sculpture created by Dan George, a 66 year old artist and creator of large installations and sculptures who hails from a place called Lake George in New York State, USA.
It is supposedly going to be awash with coloured lights at some point that will illuminate the hard metal frame (which incidentally wobbles quite vigorously at the biggest overhang when the wind blows). A feature to encourage more people to use the space that’s now, more than ever, a prime meeting spot with its vicinity to Victoria Square. The sculptor himself hinted that he had the old linen and shipbuilding industries in mind with its concept and “so you might see it as having the strength of steel and the delicate woven fabric of linen”.
Forgetting it was even taking place, I happened to stumble into the middle of the official opening on my way home from work on Thursday night and hung around to watch the speeches and the ribbon cutting. Those on show were a circus school act which I sadly had just missed, followed by a few folks including Dan George himself, Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Naomi Long and MLA Margaret Ritchie.
The speeches were ok, not too boring but mainly just the usual civic event type spiel. Dan George spoke well and tried to connect with the public, not keeping it too formal. He gave a bit of an insight into his feelings toward the piece. Naomi Long came across warm and almost seemed to be reciting her piece from memory, stating how it was positive for Belfast. Margaret Ritchie also went down that line but inadvertently gave the highlight of the speeches... during her stop-start, dry and dull stereotypical politician like delivery, her speech notes blew off the stand from in front of her. She didn’t notice for a split second and so the classic look of panic on an MLA’s face as she realised she didn’t have a clue what to say next. Ordinarily I’d feel bad laughing at someone’s misfortune but what the hey, MLAs get paid enough to simply go to Stormont, recite answers and questions that are prepared for them by someone else, whilst very rarely, so it seems, actually solve any problems. Maybe that’s harsh, but sure, it was almost ‘You’ve been Framed’ worthy. She gingerly stepped down from the plinth and a step or two forward to stop her papers making it any further towards the press. Afterwards there was a wee wait before a very prolonged posing with some scissors – the usual pretending to be cutting the ribbon whilst cameras recorded the forced moment.
'Ball by the mall'? or as Norn Girl suggested - The 'Twist when you're pissed'? she's classy is that Norn Girl.
If you have any suggestions of what we should all be affectionately calling it, please do add a comment with your ideas :)