Belfast Festival Artist In Residence Revealed

Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada to work on outdoor artwork in the Titanic Quarter

As the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s looks towards this year’s event, taking place in venues in and around the Queen's Quarter from October 17 – 27, festival director Richard Wakely has announced the appointment of the festival’s first ever artist in residence.

Internationally acclaimed Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada will work alongside volunteers and communities from all over Belfast to create a giant land art portrait, entitled 'Wish', that will transform five acres of land in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, and is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the European Union.

Rodriguez-Gerada has created poignant land art portraits all over the world, and this latest piece represents his first land art work in the UK or Ireland. 'Wish' will be created using materials sourced solely from the land, and will be portrait of an anonymous local child gazing towards the future, representing a new face for Belfast on the old face of the city. The piece will be unveiled to mark the opening of the festival on October 17.

'I create work that brings awareness to social issues and am looking forward to working with people from all over this fascinating city, from all backgrounds and beliefs,' said Rodriquez-Gerada. 'This is a project about identity, sustainability and aspirations, and I believe that Belfast is one of the most interesting cities in the world in which to present such a piece.'

Rodriguez-Gerada is a founder of the New York Culture Jamming movement and an innovator in the international art scene. Since the late 1990s 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.

His large-scale, time-based 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.

Commenting on the appointment, festival director,Richard Wakely, said: 'We are truly privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an exciting and innovative contemporary artist. Jorge’s commitment as our artist in residence offers the unique chance for local people to work alongside one of the world’s most influential emerging artists, and be part of the creation of a world-class piece of art that speaks to the future of our society.'

Damian Smyth, head of drama and literature for Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 'To have access to an international artist of this calibre is an exciting engagement opportunity for both local artists and the wider community, and really connects Belfast to worldclass talent.'

The 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is supported of various public and private sponsors, including Ulster Bank, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the EU and the British Council.

'Wish' will run throughout the 2013 Belfast Festival until October 27, and can be viewed free of charge from various specified locations within the Titanic Quarter. To get involved in this project or for more information visit the Belfast Festival website.