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New artwork celebrates the women of Sandy Row

Friday 12th June 2015 at 10am 0 Comments Public Art , Building Peace through the Arts: Re-Imaging Communities

Mother Daughter Sister a new sculpture by Ross Wilson was unveiled by Finance Minister Arlene Foster and is supported by the Building Peace through the Arts - Re-Imaging Communities Programme. Image: Mother Daughter Sister a new sculpture by Ross Wilson was unveiled by Finance Minister Arlene Foster and is supported by the Building Peace through the Arts - Re-Imaging Communities Programme.

Finance Minister Arlene Foster unveiled the new sculpture Mother Daughter Sister by Ross Wilson at a special celebration last week. 

Mother Daughter Sister is designed to be a reflection of the power of women in the area and the vital role they play within the community.

Unveiling the sculpture with Gracie Graham, Sandy Row’s oldest female resident, Northern Ireland’s first female Finance Minister Arlene Foster said:  “Women have played a powerful role in our past, present and I hope our future in Northern Ireland.  As the backbone of the community, women in Sandy Row have made a significant contribution to help bring this piece of artwork to life and have real meaning to local people.  Sharing their stories, local women have engaged with the artist, Ross Wilson and used art to help shape a shared future and use the Re-Imaging Communities Programme to build positive relations within the local community.”

The project was supported by the ‘Building Peace through the Arts – Re-Imaging Communities’ programme which is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the European Union’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III) managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and the International Fund for Ireland. The programme supports arts projects that promote a shared future and build positive relations within and between communities.

The project was led by Belfast South Community Resources and aims to create a public artwork of excellence, which captures the memories and role of women of all ages (past and present) in Sandy Row. Mother Daughter Sister is reflective of the past, present and future of Women in our community. The project started several years ago with a vision to create a number of quality art pieces that would not only celebrate the history and culture of Sandy Row but also demonstrate the community’s willingness to move forward. Sandy Row faces a number of problems not least of which is the general physical decline of the Row and the negative impression of the area, which is a hangover from the Troubles. BSCR hope that this project demonstrates what can be done to address these issues with the right mix of resources and collaboration between the community, statutory and private sectors.

Dr Garnet Busby, Chief Executive of Belfast South Community Resources said:

‘Women have long been the rod of steel that runs through and supports our community. Together with artist Ross Wilson, women of all ages from Sandy Row, took part in workshops exploring themes of identity, reconciliation and peace. We heard stories, and personal histories, which served only to highlight what a vital role women, have played in holding the community together, especially during times of adversity. We are proud of their community contribution and felt it only right that they acknowledged.’

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

‘The Building Peace Through the Arts programme has ensured arts and creativity are used to bring together communities. The women of Sandy Row have seen their fair share of adversity and yet the community has remained strong. As we unveil the artwork Mother Daughter Sister, it is fitting that we celebrate the contribution women have made to the community and that, through this project we ensure their positive legacy is on-going. ‘

Ross Wilson, artist, said:

‘Mother Daughter Sister is a homage to the women of Sandy Row and the immense contribution they have made to that community over generations.

The sculpture is the result of several months of detailed consultation with a range of women's groups and portrays a young woman from an earlier time whose heart is filled with hopes and dreams for a better future. BSCR received financial support from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in early stages of the project and they also generously granted use of the land upon which the sculpture has been placed.

On the artwork’s base are words cast in bronze from a 1950's Doris Day song "Que Sera Sera " a favourite with many of the older women involved in the project, a song they sang as young women on the way to work, a song they danced to after work and a song who's lyrics helped them dream of what they would one day be."Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be Will Be". On the sculptures back are several small objects, trinkets, personal items, the ring of a loved one...objects from family histories deep within Sandy Row.’

This sculpture celebrates the dynamic female culture and identity of Sandy Row and the generational contribution women have made to this community both in the family and work place. Mother Daughter Sister has its beginnings in Sandy Row's past but encourages all women to follow their dreams with hope-filled hearts into a hope-filled future.

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