PRINCE OF WALES AVENUE – ONE MILE LONG
The mile long Prince of Wales Avenue which runs from the Upper Newtownards Road to Parliament Buildings. Stormont Estate Belfast.
SCULPTURE BY JOHN KNOX – THE GLEANER
Originally exhibited as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain, this sculpture shows a woman on a bended knee gathering, with the inscription ‘Thrift is the gleaner behind all human effort’.
A gleaner is someone who gathers something in small pieces (e.g. information) slowly and carefully. type of: accumulator, collector, gatherer. a person who is employed to collect payments (as for rent or taxes) someone who picks up grain left in the field by the harvesters.
Commissioned by the Ulster Savings Committee for the Festival of Britain, 1951. During the festival statue was displayed in the grounds of the Ulster Farm & Factory Exhibition at Castlereagh, Belfast. After the exhibition the statue was relocated to the grounds at Stormont. The Ulster Savings Committee also considered possibility of reproducing replicas to award to local Committees & Savings Groups of outstanding merit.
John Knox was born in Scotland sometime after 1910 and studied at the Glasgow School of Art, where he received a maintenance Scholarship in 1928. Knox was a member of the Glasgow School of Art club during his studies and exhibited sculptures with the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1930 and 1932. Knox relocated to Belfast in 1939 where he succeeded George MacCann as head of sculpture at the Belfast School of Art. Despite residing in Belfast for at least a decade, Knox did not exhibit with the Ulster Academy of Arts until 1949. Following this he exhibited sculptures at the Bangor Arts Committee exhibition in 1950, and at the Ulster Arts Club spring exhibition in the same year. Knox later became President of Ulster Arts Club from 1959-60.
In 1951 Knox was commissioned by the Ulster Savings Committee to carve a sculpture celebrating the Festival of Britain. Sculptors were called to submit a design to the committee, which included the head of the Belfast School of Art, Ivor Beaumont, the Director of the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery J. A. S. Stendall, Festival architect Henry Lynch-Robinson, and the well-known painter William Conor. Knox’s design consisted of a farm girl gleaning wheat in the old fashioned method of harvesting. During the Festival celebrations in Northern Ireland the sculpture, entitled The Gleaner, occupied a prominent position near the main entrance of the Ulster Farm and Factory exhibition – Belfast’s main Festival of Britain site – acting as a reminder of tradition and thrift alongside the aspirational farmhouse of the future, and reflecting the overall exhibition’s juxtaposition of rural traditions alongside modern industry. The Gleaner was carved by Knox in the stone yard of James Jamison & Son, a commercial sculpture firm based in Belfast. The statue is now situated in the grounds of Stormont Estate. Other works by Knox include a bronze plaque memorial for Belfast electrical engineer James S. Scott in 1949 (presumed destroyed) and a statue of King George V for Belfast’s King’s Hall in 1933.
THIS SCULPTURE IS BY ROWAN GILLESPIE – TITANICA A DIVING FEMALE FIGURE
Usually when I visit here I can about fifteen minutes in order to get a clear view of Titania because people keep getting in my way but this visit it was very different as there were very few tourists in Belfast because of Covid-19 restrictions [I assume]
In front of the Titanic Belfast building is Titanica, a sculpture by Rowan Gillespie depicting a diving female figure. Made of bronze, it is mounted on a brass base, evoking the design of figureheads on ships’ prows, and is meant to represent hope and positivity. The figure was dedicated by representatives of the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches on 27 March 2012, a few days before the opening of Titanic Belfast.
STORMONT – THE PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS IN BELFAST
Parliament Buildings, usually referred to as Stormont because of its location in the Stormont Estate area of Belfast, is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for the region. The purpose built building, designed by Arnold Thornely, and constructed by Stewart & Partners, was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), in 1932.
At the design stage it was decided to site Parliament Buildings at the top of a main processional avenue, giving it a more imposing position. The avenue was an integral part of Arnold Thornely’s original design and is widely recognised as one of the finest. Originally, it was to be lined with elm trees, but this was scrapped due to the fear of Dutch elm disease. Instead, 305 red-twigged lime trees were planted. They were planted in such a way to give the illusion that the trees are giving way to allow a better view of Parliament Buildings. Most of these trees now survive to this day, but unfortunately due to recent heavy storms a number have fallen. The Prince of Wales Avenue is commonly known as ‘The Mile’.
The Executive or government is located at Stormont Castle. In March 1987, the main Parliament Building became a Grade A Listed building.
The building was used for the Parliament of Northern Ireland until it was prorogued in 1972. The Senate chamber was used by the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) as an operations room during World War II. The building was used for the short-lived Sunningdale power-sharing executive in 1974. Between 1973 and 1998, it served as the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (N.I.C.S.). Between 1982 and 1986, it served as the seat of the rolling-devolution assembly.
In the 1990s, Sinn Féin suggested that a new parliament building for Northern Ireland should be erected, saying that the building at Stormont was too controversial and too associated with unionist rule to be used by a power-sharing assembly. However, no one else supported the demand and the new Northern Ireland Assembly and executive was installed there as its permanent home.
On 3 December 2005, the Great Hall was used for the funeral service of former Northern Ireland and Manchester United footballer George Best. The building was selected for the funeral as it is in the only grounds in Belfast suitable to accommodate the large number of members of the public who wished to attend the funeral. Approximately 25,000 people gathered in the grounds, with thousands more lining the cortege route.
THE SEARCHER BY ROSS WILSON – CS LEWIS SQUARE IN BELFAST
This sculpture by Northern Irish artist Ross Wilson is an inspired creation based on the character of Digory Kirke, who, in the Narnia story, ‘The Magician’s Nephew,’ features a wardrobe made from a beautiful apple tree which has special properties. It is through this magical wardrobe that the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, enter Narnia and meet the talking animals and mythological creatures that populate that snowbound world. Modelled on CS Lewis as he was in 1919, the sculpture seeks in the words of the artist, to capture the “great ideas of sacrifice, redemption, victory, and freedom for the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve” that lie at the heart of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia®.’
CS Lewis Square is located at the intersection of the Connswater and Comber Greenways, beside the EastSide Visitor Centre. The square features seven bronze sculptures from ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, including Aslan, The White Witch, Mr Tumnus, The Beavers, The Robin and The Stone Table, it is an interesting display of public art.
Lewis wrote more than 30 books which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema. His philosophical writings are widely cited by Christian apologists from many denominations.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It is the first published and best known of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia (1950–1956). Among all the author’s books, it is also the most widely held in libraries. Although it was originally the first of The Chronicles of Narnia, it is volume two in recent editions that are sequenced by the stories’ chronology. Like the other Chronicles, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and her work has been retained in many later editions.
Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that is ruled by the evil White Witch. In the frame story, four English children are relocated to a large, old country house following a wartime evacuation. The youngest, Lucy, visits Narnia three times via the magic of a wardrobe in a spare room. Lucy’s three siblings are with her on her third visit to Narnia. In Narnia, the siblings seem fit to fulfill an old prophecy and find themselves adventuring to save Narnia and their own lives. The lion Aslan gives his life to save one of the children; he later rises from the dead, vanquishes the White Witch, and crowns the children Kings and Queens of Narnia.
Lewis wrote the book for (and dedicated it to) his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield. She was the daughter of Owen Barfield, Lewis’s friend, teacher, adviser and trustee. In 2003, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was ranked ninth on the BBC’s The Big Read poll. Time magazine included the novel in its list of the 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time, as well as its list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.