Belfast’s ‘Magic Jug’?

Belfast's 'Magic Jug'The BBC notes the announcement by the NI Social Development Minister, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, of the commissioning of a new public art sculpture for Belfast’s Fountain Street – the “Magic Jug”, designed by the London-based sculptor Joss Smith. And, unlike the Spirit of Belfast, this time the public aren’t to blame… From the ministerial statement

4.The art piece will be 550 cm in height with a 138 cm diameter and will comprise a polished granite jug with a Triskelion, or never ending double helix tri-spiral, rising from it and a Kingfisher at the top of the sculpture. The estimated cost of the art piece is £100,000 to be installed in Autumn 2010 and is subject to planning permission.

Some more details of the sculpture

The Triskelion, which is a symbol within the ancient megalithic art of Ireland, will be made from polished aluminium with a silvery reflective appearance, and will appear like water miraculously spouting from the jug. The Kingfisher at the top of the sculpture will be a dramatic accent at the top of the sculpture and act as a symbol of good fortune for the city and its bright future.

And the commissioning process

1.DSD commence the procurement process to commission an artist for Fountain Street in March 2009. The method of selection is as follow:

2.Following the publication the Brief to Artist, the Public Art Selection Panel short-listed the submissions.
· The short-listed artists were invited to develop concept designs
· The Selection Panel considered the concept designs and selected the Magic Jug
The Selection Panel was made up from representatives from the following organisations: Department for Social Development
Belfast City Council
Planning Service
EDAW (Belfast Streets Ahead design team)
Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce
Arts Council NI
Royal Society of Ulster Architects

  • It’s not April 1st yet…. so this must be real. It’s ghastly.

  • JaneJeffers

    Actually made me laugh. Ridiculous. Awful.

  • joeCanuck

    Right, we have two votes against the artist’s impression. I’ll wait until I see the real thing (not coke).

  • joeCanuck

    Pity Trevor Hanna won’t be around with his NOW money to fill it up.

  • turnpike

    Put up as much public art as you like, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Belfast is an exceedinlgy ugly provincial town.

  • DerTer

    Oh dear! I’m not a Belfastman, but Belfast pleases me when I visit, often for architectural reasons. Ugly Belfast? Certainly not. Provincial Belfast? Yes – but why is ‘provincial’ being so obviously used here as a (patronising) insult? I must also announce that if the artist’s impression is anything to go by, I’m quite taken by the ‘Magic Jug’ – and, like Joe, look forward greatly to seeing the finished article standing in Fountain Street so I can make my definitive judgement.

  • Alan

    The busker at the back of Boots will be pleased.

    They could light up the water spout every hour to match the jingly bells from the Fountain centre.

    One problem they haven’t considered is that it’s on a thoroughfare for unloading vans and lorries in the morning ( even though it’s supposed to be pedestrianised ). There are regular snarl ups on the ccorner with college st and it looks like this is right in the middle of the intersection. You take your life in your hands just walking out of Lunns’ arcade before 9.30 as it is.

  • Can’t be worse than whatever that spirally thing is in cornmarket.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Belfast needs new ideas like this. A problem with a number regenerative builds has been that are too bland, though not ugly. In saying that, I like the new St Anne’s Square

  • Cynic2

    Great. I am sure that voters in England will be delighted to see that they are subsidising this wasteful nonsense. No jobs but you can look at the jug

  • joeCanuck

    To paraphrase a bit:
    You can please all of the people some of the time;
    You can please some of the people all of the time;
    But you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    Public art is not a waste of money. Quality of life is not worthless.

  • joebeat654

    Ridiculous Actually made me laugh.

  • Cynic2

    “Quality of life is not worthless”

    ……our children will still be paying for this in 40 years so would investing in their education be better and more productive?

  • joeCanuck

    No Cynic, we can and should invest in both.

  • LabourNIman

    would rather the 100k was spent on homeless shelters that need a lick of paint.

    Another joke from the sdlp.

  • joeCanuck

    See post #14

  • PrivateBob

    I’m with you joeCanuck..public art is never (usually) a waste of money. If there is one thing that Belfast lacks, it’s nice things like sculptures. Take a walk around Dublin or Galway and there’s literally hundreds of lovely statues and certainly adds something nice to a city.

  • iluvni

    Far too many oversized jugs in Belfast already!

  • CatinHat

    Good to see recognition of the neolithic inhabitants of western Europe who we all the descendants of (apologies to our more recent arrivals), rather than the Celts, British, Anglo-Saxons or other imperialist cultures.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Be careful. The last time Margaret Ritchie had a bright idea, overuse of her index finger nearly caused an international security incident.

  • Framer

    That bleak steel ugliness in Cornmarket is designed to ensure that nobody can settle near it.

    Previous occupants like the bandstand have become sites for disorganised human activity which is unseemly and dirty.

  • Moochin Photoman

    ‘The Onion Rings” at Cornmarket is pretty damn ugly it looks to be unfinished because of the burnished finish. The plinth before the steel rings were put in place was being appropriated by who ever, be it young break dancers or evangelists. I think as a piece of public art the plinth on it’s own was unexpectantly successful.
    I’ll reserve judgement on this “Jug” as it is only an artists impression and i’d like to see it in situ before passing comment but it is hardly “Iconic”
    Public art is extremely important and not an easy thing to get right, you just have to look at the Red and Silver monstrosity (sponsored by Arts & Business and Smirnoff no less) beside the Albert Clock which gets my vote as the worst in town. That said, the thing at the back of the Waterfront Hall whilst tucked away and out of sight comes a very very close 2nd

  • JaneJeffers

    “Public art is not a waste of money. Quality of life is not worthless.”

    Surely the quality of the art, meaning, intention can and should be discussed.

  • joeCanuck

    Surely the quality of the art, meaning, intention can and should be discussed.

    Of course. I think any artist would be sad if their art wasn’t subjected to discussion, critique and even controversy. The artists that I know create their art for themselves, to give substance to whatever is in their heads. The Vast majority never make much or any money. They’re pretty lucky if their work is esteemed to be worthy of permanent/semi-permanent public display.