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The winner of the What’s That Thing? Award for bad public art is...

‘Origin’ by Solas Creative, a clumsy, aggressive, cheap-looking new sculpture overlooking Belfast

25 March 2017

9:00 AM

25 March 2017

9:00 AM

Imagine climbing the hills that surround Belfast and stumbling upon this 11-metre-high steel bollock. ‘It will be visible from a number of different points throughout the city,’ coos the Arts Council. Haven’t the people of Northern Ireland suffered enough?

‘Origin’ is the winner of our second What’s That Thing? Award for the worst new public art of the past year. The creators claim the six-metre ‘raindrop’ stuck on top of a five-metre pole represents the ‘elegant flow’ of the Farset River and ‘appears to hover’. Hover? Do you think they know what the word means?


Clumsy, aggressive, cheap-looking (despite costing £100,000), it’s the very opposite of a raindrop. Like the worst public art, it’s also the very opposite of art — ungenerous, suggestive only of itself.

Who to blame? The artists, Solas Creative, for sure. But also the arrogance of the bureaucrats who commissioned it. In the name of ‘peace’ and ‘economic regeneration’, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has littered the region with tat. If they were a person, we’d lock them up for fly-tipping. For now, shaming them is the best we can do. Email us at publicart@spectator.co.uk if you have a nomination for next year’s award.

In association with the Architecture Foundation


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