This past week I was lucky enough to be on vacation, although when I was hurtling through the air at over 600 miles per hour, squeezed into a pressurized tin can 50,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, I wasnâ€™t feeling particularly lucky–I was feeling cramped, dehydrated, and fighting the feeling that every bump meant impending doom. I guess you could say Iâ€™m not the best with airplanes. However, after landing at Heathrow Airport in London, England and catching a bus to Cheltenham, the home of a college friend, I began to feel much luckier. Over the next week, as we traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, Edinburgh, Scotland, and back to London, I not only had a blast reconnecting with a friend and getting away from it all (not to mention getting my fill of Guinness and pub food!), I was lucky enough to see an amazing array of public art.
Belfast is a place with a chaotic past, thanks to a complicated and nuanced societal rift that bridges politics, religion, socio-economic levels, and family history. Most people know Belfastâ€™s public art as the colorful and often divisive political murals declaring loyalty either to the British Crown or Republic of Ireland, or siding with important political causes elsewhere. While these murals certainly stamp the city with its own brand of outspokenness, the public art I saw on this trip was a more diverse and ultimately more playful variety.
Edinburgh stood out as an arresting fusion of the old and new. Amid winding cobbled streets and craggy battlements were graceful and elegant sculptures and buildings. I was too busy taking it all in to stop and get any photos, so I had to nab a few pictures from the web. This is just the tip of the iceberg of Edinburgh public art, but even this tidbit is amazing!
London public art astounded me with its variety and grandeur. Again, this is but a small sliver of the giant layer cake that is London public art, but I hope it hooks you!