TALL SHIPS DAY THREE

German ship Alexander von Humboldt in the Yord Dock Photo:  © Michael Fisher

German ship Alexander von Humboldt in the Yord Dock Photo: © Michael Fisher

Some pictures taken during my exploration of the Tall Ships in Belfast as a volunteer on day three of the event. The ships were concentrated around the Titanic Quarter, with many small ones berthed in the Marina. Other tall ships could be seen in Pollock Dock and in York Dock, as well as alongside Queen’s Quay and around the Clarendon Dock area.

Galway hooker from Kinvara Mac Duach alongside the Naomh Crónán from Clondalkin in the York Dock Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Galway hooker from Kinvara Mac Duach alongside the Naomh Crónán from Clondalkin in the York Dock Photo: © Michael Fisher

The traditional Galway hooker Mac Duach from Kinvara, skippered by Michael Brogan, arrived in Belfast on Thursday evening and berthed alongside a similar boat, Naomh Crónán, a replica built in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin.

The view crossing from the channel from the Titanic Quarter side across to York Dock by water taxi Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The view crossing from the channel from the Titanic Quarter side across to York Dock by water taxi Photo: © Michael Fisher

Meanwhile many of the visitors were enjoying themselves on the beach…yes, on the pop-up beach in Belfast city centre at Custom House Square. A touch of Belfast-sur-mer!

On the beach in Belfast Photo:  © Michael Fisher

On the beach in Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

And this is what the children (and some adults!) spent their time doing…a far cry from making bonfires! DSC_3665 (2) (450x800)Meanwhile over at the Lidl marquee, visitors were sampling local food and enjoying plenty of other activities including story-telling for children and cookery demonstrations introduced by Pamela Ballantine.

Pamela Ballantine introducing cookery demonstrations in the Lidl arena Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Pamela Ballantine introducing cookery demonstrations in the Lidl arena Photo: © Michael Fisher

Over the three days thousands of people came to see the Tall Ships in Belfast and they brought a truly international atmosphere to the city.

RNLI lifeboat moored at Belfast Marina for the duration of the festival. LE Creidne in background. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

RNLI lifeboat moored at Belfast Marina for the duration of the festival. LE Creidne in background. Photo: © Michael Fisher

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TALL SHIPS DAY ONE

Cisne Blanco from Brazil moored at the SSE Arena drew the crowds on Day 1  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Cisne Blanco from Brazil moored at the SSE Arena drew the crowds on Day 1
Photo: © Michael Fisher

A great spectacle as the Tall Ships 2015 flotilla arrived in Belfast with crowds packing the area around the Titanic Quarter, over the walkway beside the Lagan Weir and across the quays past Clarendon Dock to York Dock and finally Pollock Dock, where the event was centred in 1991. Quite a contrast with the scale of this year’s truly international event.

Tall Ships 2015 Belfast  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Tall Ships 2015 Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

A WISH FOR BELFAST

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada working on the land-art project at Titanic Quarter Photo: © Michael Fisher

Artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada working on the right eye of the project at Titanic Quarter Photo: © Michael Fisher

There has been a lot of talk recently about certain politicians in Northern Ireland drawing lines in the sand over the controversial Maze peace centre project. So it’s great to find an artist at work drawing lines in the sand quite literally as part of a “Wish” for Belfast which will be a major attraction for visitors to the Titanic Quarter next month.

A design for 'Wish' by Jorge-Rodriguez-Gerada Photo: Belfast Festival

A design for ‘Wish’ by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada     Photo: Belfast Festival

Internationally acclaimed Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is working alongside volunteers and communities from all over the city to create a giant land-art portrait that will transform five acres of land in the Titanic Quarter. The unveiling of this work of art will open the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s on Thursday 17th October.

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada at his land-art project at Titanic Quarter Photo: © Michael Fisher

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada at his land-art project at Titanic Quarter Photo: © Michael Fisher

During a visit to the Titanic Centre at lunchtime, which I am glad to say was very busy with visitors, I happened to meet Jorge. He was taking a short break from the project to grab a sandwich. I was taking some photographs of the project for this blog. I had been watching him in action earlier from my vantage point in the upper floors of the Titanic building. The first picture shows him (on the right of the group of three)  working on what will be the right eye of the face (left in the second picture). The area of the eye can also be seen in the above picture.

Expectation by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

Expectation by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada 2009

Rodriguez-Gerada has created poignant land-art portraits all over the world such as this sand painting of President Barack Obama he created in Barcelona in 2009 entitled Expectation. It embodied the immense sense of hope felt by Barack Obama’s supporters following his inauguration and raised a mirror to reflect the source of that hope.

Jorge told me his grandparents were Cuban and he lived there for a time. The biography on his website describes him as a founder of the New York Culture Jamming movement and an innovator in the international urban art scene. Since the late 90´s he has been replacing the faces of cultural icons chosen by advertisers with the faces of anonymous people to question the controls imposed on public space, the role models designated and the type of events that are guarded by the collective memory.

Rodríguez-Gerada´s unique direction was mentioned in Naomi Klein’s book No Logo and was a precursor of the use of anonymous portraits now common in street art. His spectacular interventions are created for the sake of bringing awareness to relevant social issues. His large scale time base works avoid negative impact on the environment, challenge the conformity in contemporary art and allow for a reflection that goes beyond the completion of the piece to focus in its concept, process, and the metaphor that comes forth because of the material chosen.

Bobcats at work spreading the topsoil Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bobcats at work spreading the topsoil Photo: © Michael Fisher

His latest piece represents his first land-art work in the UK or Ireland. The final piece will be created using sand, topsoil and other materials sourced solely from the land. Entitled ‘Wish’, the portrait of an anonymous local child gazing towards the future will represent a new face for Belfast on the old face of the city.

Wish is situated on 11 acres of land (about six times the size of the nearby Odyssey complex) and can be viewed by the public once the festival opens from high up in one of the adjacent buildings on specially escorted tours, as well by walking through the art itself. Visitors flying in and out of George Best Belfast City Airport will also get a bird’s eye view of this transformative contemporary art installation. Jorge tells me that for those taking off (usually heading away from Belfast Lough and towards the city centre), the seats on the right hand side of the plane will offer passengers the best views. I can’t say for sure how it will work out for those landing!

Lunch Break at the site Photo: © Michael Fisher

Lunch Break at the site Photo: © Michael Fisher

Public viewing from W5

At 30 minute intervals between the following times: Thurs 17th 12pm – 3pm Fri 18th 12pm – 3pm Sat 19th 11am – 4pm Sun 20th 1pm – 4pm Mon 21st – Fri 25th 12pm – 3pm Sat 26th 11am – 4pm Sun 27th 1pm – 4pm

If you would like to book a time to view Wish from W5, please click here.

Public viewing from Belfast Met

At 30 minute intervals between the following times: Thurs 17th 12pm – 4pm Fri 18th 12pm – 4pm Sat 19th 10am – 12pm Sun 20th 1pm – closed Mon 21st – Fri 25th 12pm – 4pm Sat 26th 10am – 12pm

If you would like to book a time to view Wish from Belfast Met, please click here.

Public viewing from Titanic Belfast (LIMITED AVAILABILITY) Sat 19 Oct: 11am / 12noon / 1pm / 2pm / 3pm Sun 20 Oct: 11am and 12noon Sat 26 Oct: 11am and 12noon Sun 27 Oct: 11am and 12noon

If you would like to book a time to view Wish from Titanic Belfast, please click here.

Looking towards Belfast Met and SS Nomadic Photo: © Michael Fisher

Looking towards Belfast Met and SS Nomadic Photo: © Michael Fisher

WPFG: CLOSING CEREMONY

Red Arrows over Titanic Quarter Photo: © Michael Fisher

Red Arrows over Titanic Quarter Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Red Arrows having just taken part in an air show in Newcastle, County Down, flew low over the Titanic Quarter in Belfast leaving behind a trail of red, white and blue smoke in a spectacular start to the closing ceremony of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games. In the background the cruise ship Silver Cloud was berthed on a one-day stopover.

Lord Mayor of Belfast  Máirtín Ó Muilleoir with WPFG President Mike Graham and NI Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín Photo: © Michael Fisher

Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir with WPFG President Mike Graham and NI Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín Photo: © Michael Fisher

This year’s event in Northern Ireland has been hailed as the friendliest and best games ever, taking place in 41 venues with nearly 7000 competitors from 67 countries. WPFG Federation President Mike Graham said “the organisation and professionalism of the WPFG delivery team has been exemplary, the warmth and welcome of the many thousand volunteers has been outstanding, the support of the local people has been second to none and even the weather has been fabulous. The WPFG Federation is absolutely delighted with what has been the pinnacle of our games to date and we are indebted to Belfast and Northern Ireland for making it happen.” Mind you, there was a heavy shower of rain just before the ceremony got underway!

NIFRS aerial ladder platform at Titanic slipway

NIFRS aerial ladder platform at Titanic slipway Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said the games had brought a significant boost to business and tourism. The Minister said the closing ceremony had officially lowered the curtain on a remarkable ten days in the North. “It is appropriate to look back on an event, the likes of which we have never seen before,” she said. “That we could host the World Police and Fire Games might have been unimaginable a few years ago. Yet we have confidently welcomed thousands of competitors from across the globe to join in a sporting spectacular. The games have further opened the eyes of the world to the north, they have come and experienced the best of what we have to offer”, she added.

The closing ceremony featured music from the Open Arts Choir, the PSNI Pipe Band and the Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band.

PSNI Pipe Band & Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band

PSNI Pipe Band & Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band Photo: © Michael Fisher

A special tribute was paid to the 3,500 volunteers known as the ‘spirit of the games’ for their friendly and enthusiastic contribution.

The spirit of the volunteers is evident as a double rainbow appears

The spirit of the volunteers is evident as a double rainbow appears Photo: © Michael Fisher

The formalities included a parade of flags from the participating countries, the handing over of the WPFG flag to next host city, Fairfax, and the final journey of the Flame of Hope.

Sandy Row Falcons cheerleaders: a touch of US razzmatazz Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sandy Row Falcons cheerleaders: a touch of US razzmatazz Photo: © Michael Fisher

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable and Chair of the 2013 WPFG Board, Judith Gillespie, said the games were a prime example of why Northern Ireland was “renowned for its warm and friendly welcome”. “I feel very proud, of all of our serving and retired colleagues as they stood shoulder to shoulder with fire service and prison service colleagues in Team Northern Ireland. But I am also extremely proud to have been part of this wonderful event that has brought such colour, vibrancy and enjoyment to so many and which I hope will leave a lasting legacy for Northern Ireland for many years to come”, she added.

Confetti cannons explode and the games flame is shrouded in colour Photo: © Michael Fisher

Confetti cannons explode and the games flame is shrouded in colour Photo: © Michael Fisher