An area of north Belfast branded a “hopeless place” by Rihanna when she shot a hit video there is set for a wild flower makeover this summer.
The pop superstar filmed much of the video for her 2011 smash hit We Found Love in the New Lodge, an inner city “concrete jungle” dominated by large residential tower blocks.
Now as part of an environmental initiative led by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, young people and residents will clear away foliage and weeds and plant an arrangement of native wild flowers.
Stephanie Baine, Northern Ireland manager for organisers Grow Wild, said: “Grow Wild is all about bringing people together to brighten up forgotten spaces, and that is precisely what is happening here – which shows the New Lodge is definitely not a hopeless place.”
We Found Love became a UK number one and was named video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2012.
Rihanna also shot part of the footage in a field near Bangor, Co Down. When she stripped to a bikini the landowner asked for the filming to be stopped.
A New Lodge community group has received funding from Grow Wild, supported by the Big Lottery, for the flower-planting scheme.
Gerard Rosato, who is helping to run the Sow Wild New Lodge Community Garden project, said: “People are conscious that this area is a bit of a concrete jungle. North Belfast is very densely built up, there is a housing shortage and nearly anything that can be built on has been built on.
“Any areas which can be transformed like this should be well looked after. My hope is that when this is a success we can get other, similar schemes off the ground and continue to spruce up the area.”
The New Lodge project is one of 12 community initiatives across Northern Ireland which have been awarded funding of between £1,000 and £4,000 by Grow Wild to bring people together to transform a communal space by sowing and growing native plants.
Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland director, said: “We are looking forward to seeing how the wild flowers and plants will change this underused space, and make it a place that local people want to use.”