A striking outdoor sculpture featuring 6,000 poppies marks the first time a major exhibit has been on display outside the Ulster Museum.
The Weeping Window began life as an installation at the Tower of London in 2014 and the current display represents its 13th stop on a UK tour.
The poppies – displayed according to the architecture of each site – can be seen cascading from the Ulster Museum until December 3. In the evenings the display will be lit up.
Artist Paul Cummins explained how the colour of paint used for the poppies in the installation is particularly unique.
The Chesterfield man said: “The poppies were made by a team of 369 people over nine months.
“They are all sprayed, not glazed. I wanted the consistency in colour and with red it’s not easy in ceramics to get that.
“It’s a cadmium red which is now banned by the EU because there’s a substance in it they’re not happy with.
“It came out in November and was banned in December. It’s the last time you’ll ever see this colour so it’s quite poignant.”
The red flower, which has come to represent the sacrifices made during WWI, has also been used as a divisive symbol by some.
Head of Art at National Museums NI, Kim Mawhinney, said: “National Museums NI and the Ulster Museum has never shied away with looking at our recent past and the issues that it’s brought up.
“In recent years we’ve had the exhibition ‘Art of the Troubles’ and also ‘Silent Testimony’ that looked at the aftermath of the Troubles.
“Likewise with the poppies being here we have developed a ‘Participate in Poppies’ programme where we want the public to get involved in the talks, lectures and seminars and to be part of that debate about the use of the poppy and other symbols.”
To find out what’s on in the Ulster Museum go to https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-museum/Home.aspx
Richard Wakely, Director of the Belfast International Arts Festival, said: “This year’s festival has two very strong themes which are memory and history and we’re reflecting on freedoms gained, freedoms lost and freedoms yet to be won. Within that context this very beautiful ceramic sculpture really makes a very vital contribution to our programme and allows us to ask some very challenging questions about society here.”
For a full list of the festival’s event see belfastinternationalartsfestival.com
Nigel Hinds, executive producer of 14-18 NOW, who are organising the tour, said it takes around three or four days to install the sculpture at each site.
He said each poppy is made up of a metal stem and six ceramic petals which are packed away between each location.