Local artist Jennifer Morrow and Hillsborough sculptor Ngaire Jackson were among the guests at the grand opening of Lisburn’s newest tourist attraction at the weekend.
Belshaws Quarry Sculpture Park - part of Belshaws Quarry Nature Reserve - officially opened to the public on Saturday, April 1.
More than 60 locals and visitors, some from as far away as Galway, visited the Bensons Road nature reserve for the unveiling of the eight magnificent man-sized sculptures, which were specially commissioned by Whitemountain & District Community Association (WDCA).
John Belshaw, Chairperson of WDCA and sculpture park project coordinator, commented: “The somewhat unique project by Whitemountain & District Community Association is the addition of eight geologically themed sculptures to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency-owned Belshaws Quarry National Nature Reserve on Bensons Road.
“As Lisburn’s newest tourist attraction, the sculpture park is potentially the only geologically themed sculpture park within such a reserve in Europe.”
Mr Belshaw added: “A big thanks go to the volunteers that helped with the project. Funding was gratefully provided by The Alpha Programme under the management of Groundwork NI and the resulting set of sculptures is absolutely fantastic.”
Jennifer, from the Whitemountain area, was a finalist in BBC TV’s Big Painting Challenge. She flew home from an exhibition in London to perform the official opening of the park.
In her address, Jennifer commented: “I have travelled all over the world and seen a lot of art but I have not seen anything like this exciting way to communicate geology through the eyes of sculptures.”
Congratulating WDCA on the unveiling of its public art project, Cllr Alexander Redpath described the sculpture park as “a magnificent community resource.”
“The sculpture park will undoubtedly attract residents and those from further afield to visit Belshaws Quarry. This site has a wealth of unique geological and environmental features which should be enjoyed by a wider audience,” he said.
“I’d like to thank Jennifer Morrow of the BBC’s Big Painting Challenge for agreeing to open the new sculpture park. Jennifer is a marvellous ambassador for Lisburn and her involvement will definitely bring the sculpture park to the attention of a wider audience.”
Meanwhile, WDCA is inviting anyone with an interest in sculpture and geology to a special event at Bridge Community Centre on Monday April 10 where they will get the opportunity to hear more about the Belshaws Quarry project. The event, scheduled to start at 7.30pm, will offer an insight into the new sculptures, which were created by six different sculptors, including three from the wider Lisburn area.
After the public meeting, WDCA will hold a short Annual General Meeting.
For more information about the new sculpture park, or the association’s activities, log on to www.whitemountain.org.uk