Saturday, 30 June 2007

Barrow Square, Belfast

Clarendon Dock is a unique 6 hectare site owned by Belfast Harbour Commissioners. Contained within the site is the paved performance area known as Barrow Square.

The Square backs on to two of Belfast’s best known pubs for folk music, The Rotterdam Bar and Pat’s Bar. It provides a wonderful amphitheatre for outside performances.

Well it would do if it wasn't for the bloody yuppies living in the apartments beside Barrow Square who have had some of the festivities curtailed by complaining about noise - well they knew there would be music coming from these particular bars before they bought their apartment, so why did they go ahead with the purchase? Because they knew all they had to do was make one complaint and that would be it for any concerts and they could have a prime piece of real estate that they could later sell at a disgusting profit.
But less of that, I am more interested in the mural on the gable walls commemorating another piece of Belfast's tragic history - the sinking of the Titanic. I won't bore you with all the details (I'm sure you have all seen the film) but it is also a part of Belfast's past that is now being exploited commercially.
Well it doesn't just commemorate the sinking of the Titanic but it does loom large over the rest of the mural. The young girl with the Lego© bricks does just about get squeezed in at the other edge.

Honorary Consulates

Here is something you probably didn't know, I certainly didn't know, that this innocuous building in Corporation Square is home to The Royal Norwegian and the Greek Honorary Consulates in Belfast.
It's surprising what you can see when you actually take the time to look around.

24 hours in pictures

Russian Communist party supporters hold a red flag during their rally in front of a TV station as they protest against one-sided representation of political events: Guardian: 24 hours in pictures

A picture paints a thousand words

First Post:
This picture says a lot to me but mainly what struck me first was the distance between Mr Blair and the 'little woman' carrying the luggage. Surely he must be in line for a 'Man of the Year' award.

London Bomb

Call me cynical, call me sceptical but is it not too much of a coincidence that a car bomb should be found in London a few days after Tony Blair steps down from being Prime Minister and hands over the reins to Gordon Brown. Especially in light of the fact that it is not yet known what Gordon Brown will decide to do about the troops in Iraq.

Now it may just be that I am partial to conspiracy theories but what better way to ensure that the new Prime Minister continues with the current oppressive security policies and the war in Iraq by staging a terrorist attack on London. After all who could possibly withdraw troops from Iraq now? Now that they are hitting at the heart of Britain.

This quote from 'The Guardian' might put things into perspective:

'Rajeshree Patel, who was in the nightclub when it was evacuated, said the car "was parked at an angle by the front door of TigerTiger with all four doors open and the headlights on."

Now isn't that just what any self respecting terrorist will do? Leave a car bomb parked in such a way that will instantly draw attention to it? Somebody wanted that device to be found before it caused any damage.

McHugh's Bar, Belfast

McHugh's Bar has the unique distinction of being the oldest building in Belfast, dating back to its establishment in 1711.

It's a great spot for a pint of Guinness and also a great spot to watch the various concerts and festivals being staged in Custom House Square, being located right beside and overlooking the Square.
This unusual chess set sits in the bar area and, as you can see, one set of figures is represented by various loyalist politicians - the pawns being the, then named, Royal Ulster Constabulary. I am not sure if Mr. Trimble has been deliberately turned away from Mr. Paisley, since the two no longer see eye to eye.
The other set of figures comprises Nationalist politicians (Gerry Adams etc.) and the pawns are paramilitary figures of the IRA. Unfortunately there was too much of a reflection from the glass for me to take a decent photograph of that set.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Free Prince CD

The eagerly awaited new album by Prince is being launched as a free CD with a national Sunday newspaper in a move that has drawn widespread criticism from music retailers.

The Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that the 10-track Planet Earth CD will be available with an "imminent" edition, making it the first place in the world to get the album. Planet Earth will go on sale on July 24.

The Entertainment Retailers Association said the giveaway "beggars belief". "It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music.

"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

High street music giant HMV was similarly scathing about the plans. Speaking before rumours of a giveaway were confirmed, HMV chief executive Simon Fox said: "I think it would be absolutely nuts. I can't believe the music industry would do it to itself. I simply can't believe it would happen; it would be absolute madness."

Prince, whose Purple Rain sold more than 11m copies, also plans to give away a free copy of his latest album with tickets for his forthcoming concerts in London. The singer had signed a global deal for the promotion and distribution of Planet Earth in partnership with Columbia Records, a division of music company Sony BMG. A spokesman for the group said last night that the UK arm of Sony BMG had withdrawn from Prince's global deal and would not distribute the album to UK stores.


I am not a Prince fan but I can only applaud what he is doing here - there are not many big stars who will actually give their fans something for nothing. And as for The Entertainment Retailers Association - they are only thinking of how much money they can screw out of the record buying public.

The Entertainment Retailers Association say 'It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career'. You cannot be serious - it has not been the record stores who have supported Prince, it has been his loyal fans and they deserve to be given some consideration. Record stores have been charging over the odds for CD's for years - now it's payback time.

Mail on Sunday: will be giving the CD away free on 15th July.
Single from Prince's New Album 'Planet Earth'

I Love this story ....

Did the release of Paris Hilton from a Los Angeles jail merit the media attention it received? That question reached a critical point for one US cable news presenter when she refused to read out the lead item on a popular morning breakfast show.
"I have an apology," presenter Mika Brzezinski told the host of MSNBC's Morning Joe programme, "and that is for the lead story. I hate this story. I don't think it should be the lead."

Taunted by her co-presenters, Brzezinski proceeded to tear up the script, attempting to set light to it before finally putting it through a shredder. "You have changed the world," mocked host Joe Scarborough."Yes I have," replied Brzezinski, "at least my world."

.... and they should do the same with every Paris Hilton story. Good on you! Mika

More here: I have a new hero and her name is Mika Brzezinski

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Pottinger's Entry, Belfast

Pottingers Entry is one of the entries connecting High Street and Ann Street in Belfast.

I liked the light effect and the silhouette of the busker in the archway.

Pottinger's Entry was named after Sir Henry Eldred Curwen Pottinger who was born at Mount Pottinger, at that time a rural area outside of Belfast. He studied at the Belfast Royal Academy and went on to become the first Governor of Hong Kong. During his governorship, Hong Kong became the major port for trading opium in China. I don't know if the two facts are related.

No building permit for Sagrada Familia?

MADRID, Spain (AP) — Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church, an unfinished Barcelona landmark that is considered a marvel of modern architecture, has lacked a construction permit for more than a century, city officials acknowledged Friday.
Gaudi first presented a design for the church in 1883 and two years later suggested changes to the blueprint. Both times he won permission.

But planning officials never responded to two later requests to change the construction plans, in 1916 and 1990. The administrative silence amounted to acquiescence, a town hall official said, confirming a report in the newspaper El Pais.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Another Belfast Clock .....

I like clocks, I like clocks that operate properly, I like clocks that display the correct time, I like unusual clocks, I don't wear a watch, I like clocks. This unusual clock, which is located on the piazza in Belfast's Fountain Centre, was manufactured in Hamburg and comprises 24 bronze bells which play various melodies on the hour.

There are two sets of figures: a millennium set featuring King David, John the Baptist and Joseph & Mary and a set of 10 figures from Alice in Wonderland. On alternate hours each set revolves around the clock pillar (decorated in mosaic by local artist Bernie Sutton).

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Art Cuisine and Rainbows in Belfast

A couple of weeks ago we had a meal in 'The Apartment' and I noticed the unusual pattern made by the shadow of the wine bottle and glasses and the railing just behind our table. Along with the white lines of the wallpaper pattern it looked to me just like a piece of modern art.

When we left the restaurant we were rewarded with the sight of a rainbow after the heavy rain ...
... which turned out to be a double rainbow. (Did somebody mention pots of gold?)
The following week on leaving another restaurant ('Giraffe' on Stranmillis Road) we were treated to yet another double rainbow.

The trees at the bottom of the street mark the boundary of Botanic Gardens.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

VOTE FOR THE WEE SWEETIE SHOP! or I'll lick all your wine gums.

UTV are running a competition to find out who we think is our Local Hero - so if you would like to vote for the wee sweetie shop please click here:

Father's Day

I know Father's Day was last week - but unfortunately my daughter was in Lanzerote so we had a belated Father's Day celebration at Grace Neill's Pub in Donaghadee with music by ...

.... Jackie Flavelle & Tim Cobain.

They are great musicians, with a very laid back repertoire which made for a pleasant and relaxing afternoon.

Just at the entrance to the restaurant is this very unusual goldfish bowl. I am reliably informed that the two fish are called - Grace and Neill - Grace being the one with the white skirt. No they don't fill it with the Moët et Chandon. Don't be silly!

A canto of cranes

I know my fellow blogger (or is that bloggeress?) blueboat of Belfast Daily Photo has previously posted a photo of the cranes that are now dominating the Belfast skyline - well this is them from near the Albert Clock and as you can see the dome is growing.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Danny is dying, again.

If you think policemen aren't human then read this:

Second Belfast Carnival 2007 - #2

Here we have a young participant of the second Belfast Carnival (no I don't know what she is dressed as) playing on a street installation. Stepping on the squares produces a note (a bit like the chime of a bell) so if you are any way musical you can produce a fairly basic tune. They actually sound a bit like wind chimes. Anyway, as you can see our young friend is having fun - a bit like playing hopscotch on a xylophone.


Belfast 2007 - not Rio de Janeiro (c: and we have a second Lord Mayor's Carnival because we have just elected a new Lord Mayor (Jim Rodgers).
You know those old umbrellas that you see lying about the streets - the ones that have been blown inside out - well this is how you can put them to practical use: stick them on a brush pole and stick on a couple of extra petals 'et voila' - a flower.

... and here we have the lovely, nay the beautiful, queen of hearts - not only did she blow me a kiss but she also allowed me (nay, she commanded me) to kiss her on the cheek. Mmmm!

Purple Haze!
The theme of the carnival (I think) was either the 'Summer of Love' or 'Peace, Love & Cross Community Reconciliation'. BUT do they really think that is how we looked in the Summer of Love? They must be out of their tiny skulls on acid or some similar psychedelic mood enhancer (c:

Here's a little song we can all join in with ....

even the statues get in on the act.

Some of the many photographers.

Painting a new image of NI

Maggie Taggart: BBC Northern Ireland education correspondent
Loyalist and republican murals have become tourist attractions in Northern Ireland and their artists have been invited to decorate a gable wall in Washington for the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.

However, they will not be painting hooded gunmen or hunger strikers.

Instead, a more positive view will be held up to the a million visitors expected to wander down the Washingtom Mall over the next two weeks.

East Belfast artists will be painting industrial scenes and Tom Kelly of Bogside Murals will be recreating one with coloured squares and a dove of peace already on a gable wall in Londonderry.

One hundred and sixty creative people have been chosen by the Smithsonian Folk life festival to represent Northern Ireland.

This has been an annual event for the last 40 years and each year the museum's group takes over Washington's central Mall for two weeks for a celebration of culture.

Perhaps symbolically, a house with two gable walls will be built on the Mall, with the east Belfast artists on one side and the Bogside ones on the other

The only other region of the UK ever to be invited before was Scotland in 2003.

The idea is to portray a positive image of Northern Ireland, so that's why the old style of paramilitary mural is out of favour.

In east Belfast they are being painted over and replaced with uncontentious pictures.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Picasso style Citroen

Picasso's Portrait of Dora Maar, with its misplaced features, gave Andy Saunders the idea for this cubist version of a Citroen 2CV

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Some Belfast Clocks

People will probably be surprised to see the number of clocks in Belfast
within a short distance of the City Hall.

All of these clocks are located on buildings in Royal Avenue and Donegall Place.
What surprises me is that most of them actually display the correct time.
The Bank of Ireland Building is now derelict and awaiting renovations,
so it's understandable (but sad) that this clock is no longer operative.
A very modern and accurate clock on Lunn's jewellers.
These two buildings are side by side - so we would expect the clocks to agree.

That of course should read - Queens Arcade (apologies)

These two clocks have just been neglected, though I think this old Bank of Ireland clock should be removed - it really is an eyesore.

All of these photos were taken between 7.45 a.m. and 7.55 a.m. today

This has to be my favourite - I just like the style of it - pity that it has also been neglected.

Local Food Hero

UTV are running a competition to find out who we think is our Local Hero and it has been brought to my attention that people are being directed (by someone with a vested interest) to a web page where they can cast a vote for one of the nominees - now I really don't think that's fair play.

When will these people realize that, by phoning/emailing all their friends or relatives to vote for a particular nominee, this will actually devalue the award?
My understanding is that the award is supposed to be made based on the praise or recommendations of satisfied customers – which is more understandable.
If you feel that you have constantly received good service from a particular establishment then you would probably be very happy to know that they have been given an award recognizing this. But to be given an award just because a large number of friends and relatives will vote for you, regardless of whether or not they have been customers in your particular establishment, where is the merit in that?

So to be sure that this contest is won on merit I urge you to nip into the UTV Food Site and cast your vote for your favourite local hero (the competition is not just limited to chefs and restaurant owners) - SO can we vote for the owner of the great wee sweety shop in Smithfield at the back of Castle Court?

The sweet shop in Smithfield is 'Old Tyme Favourites' - I have tried to nominate it but it does not appear to have been accepted (unless there is a delay on nominations being posted) - so if you would like to vote for the wee sweety shop check back later under 'Delicatessen/specialist food shops' in Belfast and make your vote count.
Anyway please vote for one of your favourites.


Interesting animation - to say the least!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in 3D

Another great animation on youtube

Art by Steph Woods

Utility boxes in Belfast (Norn Iron) are being decorated by the local art students, I believe, and this has to be my favourite (mouth watering). Well done, Steph.

Living Leaves - One hundred Springs

This piece of pavement art is installed just in front of the City Hall - there are various names on the leaves, the significance of which I have been unable to find, they may be the names of victims of the 'Troubles' but probably, more mundanely, are the names of Belfast councillors/mayors (I really didn't take a close enough look at the names) who have held office in the 100+ years the council has been in existence.
Well I found out what the leaves represent and who the people named are .... it really pays to read plaques, especially those providing the required information.

There is always one ...

In every crowd there is always one, one person who doesn't fit in, one person who isn't accepted, one person who is ostracized, one person who is given the cold shoulder and, it would appear, this also applies to mannequins. This store is just across the road from where I board the bus to work and I couldn't help feeling sorry for the poor mannequin on the left - she looks so dejected.
Compare her with her Parisienne counterpart.
.... and check out this entry Guns don't kill people, Mannequins do. from Belfast Peeler.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

artzyard gallery, Portaferry

On Friday we braved the wind and the rain and the floods to drive down to Portaferry (though truth be told - there wasn't much in the way of flooding [the local radio stations should check the accuracy of their information more often]) to attend the one man show of local artist John McSorley being held at the artzyard gallery, owned and run by Zoë Mageean.

Despite the weather, there was quite a good turnout and all present were very impressed by John's work.

John is not a newcomer to the scene, he was born in Lisburn in 1948 and has been painting since childhood, with his first one man show being held in Belfast in 1971. He moved to live near Strangford Lough almost 20 years ago and has been depicting the many moods of the are ever since. He has also made numerous trips abroad and his paintings of cities, such as Venice and Paris, are depicted in a similar vein. Preferring to capture the effects of dawn, dusk, moonlight and starlight.

The artzyard is a new gallery, launched in May 2007 with a spring exhibition put together to reflect the rich diversity and talent of artists from the Strangford Lough area, as well as those from other parts of Ireland, from Belfast to Cork.

The gallery will hold four large group exhibitions a year – spring, summer, autumn and winter – with smaller group and one person shows running in between.

artzyard gallery: