Earlier this week, a number of residents from across Belfast came together to celebrate the unveiling of a new public artwork in City Cemetery entitled, Forget Me Not.
The sculpture, made of bronze coated steel, is the work of artist Alex Pentek and is the realisation of extensive community engagement with over 500 participants, through artist-led workshops.
The project was coordinated by Belfast City Council, with assistance from The Friends of Falls Park, during which they worked across the community alongside artists, to create a new shared symbol of peace building and partnership for the historic cemetery under the theme ‘Life and Time’.
The ‘Forget Me Not’ art piece is part of an exciting, innovative project by the council, to revitalise and encourage city-wide ownership of the historic cemetery. For this particular project, the theme was to create a public artwork which captured the life and times of the past, the current and future communities and residents of the city, sending out a message of acknowledgment, unity and appreciation to all who have played a part in our city’s past.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, said: “City Cemetery is a shared space for people from all faiths and none, so Belfast City Council is delighted to have supported this project which aims to promote diversity and tackle sectarianism. It is encouraging then that this project was brought to life after much cross-community consultation.
“The Forget Me Not sculpture is designed to promote understanding of, and respect for, the diverse communities that have contributed to the growth and development of the city.
“It is a reminder of the future and the past we share in common. We can achieve and add much to our city through hard work, invention, care and respect for others. The Forget Me Not sculpture is an important symbol in this cemetery because it asks us to consider the contribution and diversity of all those buried here and, in that process, unites those who remember and pay their respects.”
The project also recieved significant supported from the Re-Imaging Communities Programme, part of Peace Building Through The Arts, which is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; the European Union’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III).
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Building Peace Through the Arts programme has, at its core, the ability to bring communities together, through creative led engagement.
“We have witnessed towns across Northern Ireland and the border counties experience the transformative power of the arts, Belfast is no exception and we are delighted to be part of the unveiling of this new artwork in this historic and peaceful place which symbolises the journey of people from the past and present throughout the city.”
The design and location of the artwork invites visitors to contemplate all those, unborn, young or old who have been laid to rest in the marked and unmarked plots. The area surrounding the sculpture is also being planted with wildflowers, mirroring the flowers and buds on the sculpture, which symbolise the diversity and fragility of life.
*This article has been updated on 09th Aug, to include information on funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.