Unless you’re a sad shipyard nerd like me, you might not have noticed the careful placement of pictures on the wall of the garden. The one you can’t miss is the massive shipyard model (on loan from the Drawing Offices) which was created in about 1980 (as best we can guess) to show off Belfast’s massive shipbuilding empire:
As you can see the model has suffered a few knocks over the years and a few bits have fallen off – which is nothing compared to the real-life story of the yard through the decades after the model was built. So many of those little grey wooden blocks represent workshops, paint halls, offices, stores and sheds which are now long gone. Ten years ago, contrasting the thriving industry of that model with the largely-deserted reality would have been a sobering exercise.
But that’s not the end of the story… the next picture (again on loan from TQ Ltd) is the architect’s vision of what could be built on that once-thriving site. (I know it looks like a photo, but look closely and you’ll see that everything except the crane and the Odyssey is just a computer-generated projection – a dream of what could be):
I’m sure there were times when that artist’s impression looked like a far-off dream. But today, a photograph from that same angle looks almost identical to the computer-generated vision – but this time with real homes and shops and offices (and a stupendously-wonderful Honesty Box cafe) in place of pixels:
And widen out the view (as this picture is one of Wesley Ellis’s fantastic panorama photographs) and you’ll see that not only at the ARC, but all across the TQ, dreams are becoming reality – the Met, Titanic Belfast, Nomadic, all our amazing neighbours and all the life they bring:
So, these pictures are now side-by-side in the Prayer Garden, telling the story of a shipyard, that became a wasteland, that became a vision, that became a reality. How appropriate that they’re in a garden, a place of constant growth, renewal and rebirth.
The next time you feel stuck – call in and have a look!