Three stainless steel mallard ducks on an arc of flax flowers can now be seen soaring above the historic flax dams at Ligoniel.


The local community have worked with artists to celebrate the rich linen history of the Ligoniel Dams through the creation of a bespoke sculpture which may now been seen on the site rising over 3 meters to frame this natural setting.


The sculptural base is in the form of a water wheel which would have once powered the mill next to the site.  The top of the base is decorated in vibrant blue flax flowers beside a representation of the Forth River which flows from the Belfast Hills providing the power for this industry.  Stainless steel columns rise up from the base representing strands of linen thread.  Interwoven in this thread are flax flowers etched with individual designs created by local young people. The crowning glory is three beautiful mallard ducks attached to the columns soaring towards the lower dam.


The Belfast Hills Partnership has spearheaded the arts project as part of its Heritage Lottery-funded landscape partnership scheme which seeks to connect local communities to the hills around them. The Arts Council also provided essential funding and guidance through this exciting process.


Year five pupils from St Vincent De Paul primary school in Ligoniel were particularly involved as they drew pictures of what the site meant to them, which are now etched into the final piece. The local youth group, history group and community group also played an important role in shaping the final piece.


The installation of the seat took place on Thursday April 28 with the local children unveiling their creation.

The project has been undertaken in partnership with the Ligoniel Improvement Association.


Damien McCallin from Ligoniel Improvement Association said:


“This inspiring sculpture fosters a sense of ownership of the Ligoniel Dams site in the local community, particularly the schoolchildren. We hope that it will encourage more of the people of Belfast to visit this marvellous place.”


Artists Eleanor Wheeler and Alan Cargo guided the community from the initial consultation and design stage, through to successful completion of the piece.


Eleanor said: “These pieces have created a real sense of ownership celebrating the ideas, aspirations and imagination of people from the area.”


Belfast Hills Partnership Scheme Manager Lizzy Pinkerton said the sculpture would stand as a great achievement in the years to come for the whole community.


“What was fantastic about this project is how it showcases both the linen history of the site and present day natural heritage, both of which have been shaped by the sites location at the foot of the Belfast Hills.”


Roisin Walsh of St Vincent De Paul primary said:


“The children were inspired by local wildlife and the history of the are to make their designs. These designs were then incorporated into the artist’s final creation. The children thoroughly enjoyed working on the project and are very proud of the result.”