Public Art in Lisburn

Overview of Lisburn’s Natural Forces Sculpture Trail

Lisburn City Council’s Natural Forces Sculpture Trail is one of the most prestigious public arts projects ever undertaken in Northern Ireland.

The trail involves five site-specific sculptures placed along Lagan Valley Island on the banks of the Lagan river. The trail is supplemented by exhibition spaces in the Island Arts Centre.

Assisted by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Fund, the overall aim of the Natural Forces project was to create works that reflect and engage with the life of Lisburn city and its people.

It demonstrates a visionary understanding of the way in which artwork can both enrich public buildings and spaces, and enhance the general public’s access to and understanding of contemporary art. The programme has also created a vital public face for the professional artistic community, providing an interface between artists and the general public.

The themes of the trail are based around the title ‘Natural Forces’. Earth is represented by the natural beauty of the island location; fire by Lisburn’s historic past and the council crest; wind, a natural energy form, and water by the rebirth of the canal area.

The trail is as follows:

A series of 12 prints illustrating the capital development of the Island Mill Site by Janet Preston from Lisburn, Co Antrim.

This first piece of art features 12 original prints illustrating the development of the new Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre and Island Arts Centre from a state of dereliction to an area of prominence and civic pride.

External Environment: Wildlife of the area by Karl Ciesluk from Ontario, Canada

This commission celebrates water bringing the rebirth of marine life to the River Lagan. A series of fish and animal carvings on large stones function as fun seating. The stones are also inscribed with environmental statements.

External Environment: Garden by Ned Jackson Smyth from Newtownards, Co Down

This commission is a granite and bronze sculpture that functions as a fountain. It symbolises the formation of the Lagan Valley Island out of the river and canal.

External Environment: The Island Arts Centre entrance by Brian Connolly from Bushmills, Co Antrim

This bronze sculpture of an artist’s easel, picture frame and stool is situated outside Island Arts Centre’s entrance. A hugely popular interactive piece, it is intended to pay homage to the earth and water landscape of the island site while cleverly framing the attractive view beyond.

Internal Environment: The Island Arts Centre Foyer by Larissa Watson-Regan from Dundrum, Co Down

This commission incorporates a series of handmade works in the main reception area of Island Arts Centre. It includes six batik-treated and hand-stitched linen hangings merging into a scene symbolising the rebirth of the canal through the development of the Lagan Valley Island site. A kinetic installation etched with markings and suspended at different levels from the ceiling represents wind and fire, as do decorative glass panels at the opposite end of the centre.

Concentric Twist Sculpture

Following the success of Lisburn City Council’s Natural Forces Public Art Competition, funding was secured from the Sustrans Cycle Network for another public artwork. The successful Concentric Twist sculpture by d3 Art and Design symbolises the sport of cycling, a popular pastime on the scenic Lagan Valley Island site. The Twist acts as an identifiable gateway feature on route nine of the National Cycle Network.

A tree of dreams to celebrate city status

Created by visual artist Bob Sloan, the Tree Of Dreams is Lisburn City Council’s gift to the people of Lisburn to celebrate city status, awarded on March 14, 2002. This unique artwork encapsulates the hopes and dreams of over 5000 of the city’s citizens, individually inscribed onto copper leaves, hanging from a 10m stainless steel tree. It symbolises not only community ownership of the sculpture trail, but also the city’s hopes for a positive future.

Wood Sculpture Project with the Voluntary Service, Lisburn

Island Arts Centre and Voluntary Service Lisburn have engaged visual artist Ned Jackson Smith to facilitate a wood sculpture project. Working with the Seymour Hill Horticultural Project, a public artwork will be created that will find a home in one of the city’s public parks. It will be the first artwork of its kind in Lisburn.

© Lisburn City Council 2004