£150k street art to boost 'Botanical Borough' of Antrim and Newtownabbey

Street art costing £150,000 is to be installed across Antrim and Newtownabbey in a bid to develop a “Botanical Borough”, it was agreed at a meeting of the council on Tuesday.
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Councillors approved the creation of five art installations in each of the borough’s seven district electoral areas (DEAs).

The proposal was initially agreed in October 2021 as part of “a means to animate towns and villages” when it was decided street art would be “reflective of the local area including potentially history and heritage”.

The council will be working with Daisy Chain Inc, a Belfast-based agency that works with specialist artists to deliver street art.

Planting at the Coronation Garden in Hazelbank Park. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting ServicePlanting at the Coronation Garden in Hazelbank Park. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting Service
Planting at the Coronation Garden in Hazelbank Park. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting Service

It is proposed to deliver 35 pieces of public art by October 2024 with one “large scale signature art work created in each DEA based upon the area’s chosen botanical emblem” as well as smaller pieces.

The proposal to accept the recommendation for the creation of street art was made by Airport Sinn Fein Councillor Annemarie Logue seconded by Threemilewater Alliance Cllr Julie Gilmour.

The districts’ botanical emblems are: Airport, rose; Antrim, bluebell; Ballyclare, flax flower; Dunsilly. flax flower; Glengormley, forget-me-not; Macedon, cherry blossom; Threemilewater, flax flower.

The concept of an “award-winning Botanical Borough” was the brainchild of garden designer Diarmuid Gavin to boost Antrim and Newtownabbey’s recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Wildlfower planting. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting ServiceWildlfower planting. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wildlfower planting. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting Service

A previous report to councillors says it will “enhance the Local Biodiversity Action Plan, contribute to sustainability and the Climate Change Action Plan and support both tourism and economic development”.

The initiative also includes the creation of cherry blossom tree avenues to “create a cosmopolitan feel”; the creation of wildflower meadows “transforming parks, road, verges, waste ground to flowering meadows”; botanical wall art for town centres and housing estates to “soften the appearance” and make them “more attractive” and create urban spaces where residents can grow fruit and vegetables.

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Diarmuid is the creator of the Coronation Garden at Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey, which was opened by King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May and the Clockwork Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens to mark Her late Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee, the 10th anniversary of the location’s refurbishment as well as the 100th anniversary of the Antrim Castle fire and the return of Garden Show Ireland after the pandemic in 2022.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter