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Giant Lizard finds new home

Thursday 6th October 2005 at 12pm 0 Comments

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A group of Visually Impaired artists from Open Arts, today (6th October) unveiled their colourful sculpture of a giant Lizard at the Palm House in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens. Remarkably the core group that worked on the sculpture are all registered blind. Open Arts is an Arts Council of Northern Ireland funded arts and disability organisation which arranges creative activities for disabled people across Northern Ireland.

The Visually Impaired Group has been running since 1992 and has experimented with a wide range of visual art forms, including print making, collage, painting and ceramics. Their latest adventure began at the Crescent Arts Centre back in May. With the guidance of artist Tomás Finnegan, the group got to work by sketching the form of the lizard onto sheets of polystyrene. The shapes were then cut out and the layers glued together to form the basic shape of the monster. When Belfast City Council Park Development began to show an interest in giving a home to the completed beast, it spurred the group onto the next stage.

Using tiles broken into small irregular pieces, the group began to mosaic. They wisely started with the least visible part of the lizard first (its underbelly) ensuring they would be experts by the time they came to the main parts of the animal.

Of course the project was not all a walk in the park. Each week the lizard had to be shifted from the Crescent Arts Centre’s dance studio and left on top of a tall cupboard. During one of these dangerous moves, the lizard lost a leg. The artist however worked a miracle and grafted it on again. He also offered the lizard shelter in a large workshop space in the grounds of his house. At its new location, the group worked tirelessly covering the lizard’s body and limbs with mosaics, devising ways of embellishing its spine and creating features such as its tongue, mouth and eyes.

Kate Ingram, Director of Open Arts said, “At times it seemed as though the work would never be done, but the group carried on tirelessly. All in the Open Arts Visually Impaired Group are rightly proud of the finished sculpture which fits perfectly into its new home in the Palm House in Botanic Gardens.”

Open Arts is just one of the recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Annual Support for Organisations funding. To find out about more funding opportunities logon to www.artscouncil-ni.org

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