BLACKSTAFF SQUARE – DISAPPEARANCE OF A SCULPTURE AND A CLOCK
In 2021 a plan to transform the Linen Quarter in Belfast City Centre over a period of six months. The plan included a new social hub for Brunswick Street with a container café/bistro, open air seating, outdoor stage and a games area when I visited in March 2022 the project was close to completion.
There is what could be described as a small public space bounded by Amelia Street and Brunswick Street. Google Maps does not show its name but it is known as Blackstaff Square which is the result of the redevelopment of what was a at one stage a bomb site and according to some locals that I met it was a well-known site for on-the-street drinking.
Over the years the square has changed and this year two features that I like are no more. One was a stand-alone public clock and the other was a bronze and fibreglass sculpture by Anna Cheyne [1926 – 2002], representing the regeneration of the city of Belfast and therefore called “Regeneration”. Anna Cheyne’s family might not be too pleased by the fact that her work in Blackstaff Square is not much mentioned in tourist guides or by the fact that it was usually surrounded by litter and empty beer bottles. I am willing to bet that few people ever noticed it.
A Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker is a 1992 sculpture by Louise Walsh is located nearby outside the Europa Hotel. The original commission, in the late 1980s, was for an artwork to reflect the nearby Amelia Street’s history as a red-light district. Walsh’s design “Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker” was accepted by the project’s landscape architect and the Art in Public Spaces Research Group, however the Belfast Development Office and the Belfast City Council opposed the project and the selected design, and the project was dropped in 1989. A few years later a private developer recommissioned the work and it was erected in 1992 outside the Europa Hotel.