20 October 2013

Belfast Unveils Wish: AKA The Face from Space

An incredible eleven acre land art installation has been unveiled in Belfast, Northern Ireland.   The piece shows the face of a little girl, anonymous said to be from the city, smiling rather enigmatically. Although the work, by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is formally entitled Wish, locals have already given it a new name: The Face from Space.

Wish has been months in the planning and is part of the Belfast Festival which started on 17 October and lasts for ten days.  This world class piece of land art is made up of 30,000 pegs.  Add to this 2,000 tonnes of soil and an equal amount of sand and you begin to realize the titanic scale of this project.  All told, it covers eleven acres of Belfast’s old docklands. Although the International Space Station is yet to take any pictures of Wish, this Face from Space is a thrilling sight for visitors to the city flying in and out of George Best Belfast City Airport.

Talking of Titanic, the piece sits in the shadow of the year old visitor center dedicated to the ship, her makers and passengers.  Titanic Belfast and Wish are probably the most prominent, certainly the largest, symbols of the cultural and artistic renaissance the city is undergoing at the moment.  Wish represents a new face for Belfast on the old face of the city not to mention the city’s optimism that its future is brighter than many thought possible.

We have a video of the completed project below but here is a short video made by The Dock Church, one of the community groups involved in the project. If peace in Belfast is to be maintained and the city’s troubles consigned to the past then it will need to bring its people together in order to do that.  Wish has certainly contributed to this process, with hundreds of volunteers giving up to a month of their time to help put the massive piece of land art together.

Rodriguez-Gerada enlisted a number of community groups and local businesses to arrange the sand and soil which became the top layer of his photographic image of the six year old girl.  This image was itself plotted on the ground using state of the art vector computer technology.

Wish combines a highly contemporary yet sweetly inspirational and massively ambitious piece of public art with a community spirit that shows a willingness to redeem the past and look to the future.

All pictures courtesy of the Titanic Belfast Flickr Photostream.