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Three artists from Northern Ireland compete for the chance to create a new piece of public art

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Three artists from Northern Ireland will compete for the chance to create the UK’s next major landmark on Sky Arts’ Landmark show.

Hosted by Gemma Cairney, Landmark sees three artists from different parts of the UK compete for funding of £ 200,000 to create a permanent public work of art in the 2021 British city of culture, Coventry.

Photographer Stephen Wilson, inventor Paddy Bloomer and sculptor Ellie Niblock will star in Monday night’s North Irish heat – the fifth in the series.

Each artist received £ 25,000 to create a temporary public art work to be submitted to the judges. The winner will then move on to the grand final.

Mr Wilson of Lisburn explained that the call was made to artists last year to create a piece of public art that would be relevant to their region.

His project focused on the stories of those who lived or grew up near the Belfast Peace Walls.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all artists had to create their entrances indoors.

Mr Wilson had initially planned to stick portraits of his interlocutors on the Peace Walls, but instead asked the company responsible for the structures to create their own miniature wall.

“We used the fences used in the Peace Walls to build a 3D fence 15m long and two meters high,” he said.

“Then I could put my photographs on it, and then I got my photographs, cut them out and converted them to dots, and I had a company near Crumlin carve them out of wood. They drilled these little holes in the wood and it was painted gray to make it look like concrete.

Mr Wilson then created an app in which users point their cameras at the image that takes you to his website to hear interviewees’ stories.

“It was very interesting because you were talking to someone and they were telling you their story,” he said.

A woman who lived in the New Lodge said: ‘It was really tough in the 70s and 80s. It was terrible, you couldn’t go out your front door without the army going up and down and it burst into your house, but it’s been a lot better since the Good Friday accord.

“In the next photo next to her, another woman, who lived a few blocks away in the New Lodge, who said,” In the ’70s and’ 80s it was awesome. Everyone was friendly and everyone got along. These days it is terrible. You can’t leave your front door without people revolting.

Meanwhile, East Belfast sculptor Ms Niblock paid tribute to her family’s history of working in the city’s shipyard.

She built an incredible number of 174 sculptures to represent the number of ships built for the Royal Navy by Harland and Wolff in Belfast between 1868 and 1969.

“I interviewed my father who worked there when he was young and he told me his stories, which gave me inspiration,” Ms. Niblock explained.

“I used a lot of yellow because I was referring to the Harland and Wolff cranes.

“It was an amazing experience. It all went so fast because we had two weeks to build our parts and obviously doing 174 individual parts was a challenge.

“I loved it and getting such a big budget was amazing to achieve something really big.”

The pieces by Mr. Wilson, Mrs. Niblock and Mr. Bloomer are all on display at the FE McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge. Landmark is available to watch Mondays on Sky Arts at 8 p.m. ET.

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