The 26.2ft public artwork is linked to the city's Coat of Arms

Belfast Harbour has officially

unveiled a landmark public artwork as part of its 400th anniversary celebrations.

The eight-metre high Seahorse sculpture has been installed at Dargan Road, where

it will welcome thousands of daily visitors to the Harbour on what is the

Port’s busiest entrance.

The ‘Belfast Seahorse’ is the work

of internationally-acclaimed German sculptor and University of Ulster Reader Ralf

Sander, whose portfolio includes major projects in South Korea, the US and

Germany.

Made of highly polished stainless steel and resting on an enlarged

shipping bollard, the sculpture is designed to reflect the surrounding

environment in a kaleidoscopic fashion.

Historic connections

The seahorse has strong connections

to Belfast’s origins and maritime history, with the city’s first merchants printing

the mythical creature on their coins throughout the 17th century.

The seahorse also forms part of Belfast’s official crest, with further links

visible at Belfast ‘Inst’ (RBAI). The school was founded by Belfast merchants

and retains numerous references to the Seahorse in its sports teams.

Belfast Harbour chairman Len

O’Hagan said: ‘This landmark project represents a

major investment in the cultural infrastructure of Belfast.

‘We are extremely

proud of the Harbour’s contribution to the arts and we believe the Belfast

Seahorse will very soon become one of the city’s most iconic images.

‘As well as the many close

historical links to the city of Belfast and its emerging Port, there are a

number of myths and legends surrounding the Seahorse which add to the mystique

of the sculpture.

‘Mr Sander and his team at the University of Ulster have

invested a great deal of creative and physical energy in this project and I

commend them on what is an inspirational piece of public art.’

The artist

Among Ralf Sander’s other projects

are the ‘Lady Bird Transformation’ mirage at the Busan Film Centre in South

Korea and the World Saving Machine at the Crane Arts Centre in Philadelphia.

Due

to the unusual techniques which the team used to shape and cast the stainless

steel Seahorse, much of the construction work was carried out in an advanced

foundry in South Korea.

Mr Sander said: ‘I like to play with double

meanings. The Belfast Seahorse has the clarity of icons but its outlines make

the familiar seem strange through unlikely shifts in form.

‘I think the concept

is not following clichés of taste and style but there might be a little

Postmodernist spirit embedded in the concept. Casting stainless steel is still

uncommon in large scale sculpture and we improved the technique.

‘Dancing on an enlarged shipping

bollard, the body of the seahorse is the powerful spiral shape of a small

twister. It also has the quality of a mirage as it is possible to recognize

human profiles in the body if you look close enough.’