Harnessing the red brick heritage of ‘the Village’ through digital arts and traditional skills

The Community Arts Partnership (CAP) is delighted to be embarking on an innovative project, with the Greater Village Regeneration Trust (GVRT) and a wide range of other partners, using the arts to explore red brick heritage in the Village area of south Belfast and across the city. Red Brick Belfast received £10,000 through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Sharing Heritage programme.

Six young unemployed men and 6 women from the area will work closely with a range of practitioners from architecture, archaeology, ceramics and digital arts backgrounds for 12 weeks, beginning at the end of September, to record and interpret the Donegall Road (Village) Area of Townscape Character, where red brick terraces, factories and churches deserve greater attention.

The group will investigate red brick heritage in other parts of the city too, including the restored terraces in McMaster Street, to the east, off the Newtownards Road.  They will get to grips with hands-on repair of damaged brickwork at the listed Oldpark Carnegie Library in north Belfast, and form and fire their own brick inspired tiles for use in the Village community garden.  The project reaches out across the Irish Sea, to members of ‘Home Baked’, a Co-operative Bakery and Community Land Trust based in Liverpool, Belfast’s sister city, who will share their experience of breathing life into red brick heritage there.

Skilled artists from CAP will help the group imagine the future of underused landmark buildings, including the recently listed, and now vacant, 1920s Rydalmere garment factory.  A short film will be made of the group’s journey, to help project local aspirations for the area’s built heritage, beyond this highly diverse taster programme.

Conor Shields, Chief Executive of the Community Arts Partnership said:

“We are really pleased to be leading a project which showcases how the arts can help reinforce local identity and shine a light on the potential of local heritage to bring a positive focus to communities”.

Melissa Lynas, Community Sustainability Officer with Greater Village Regeneration

“We’re delighted to be partners in Red Brick Belfast, and I know our group of young men and women are excited about picking up new digital and traditional skills and using them to explore our distinctive red brick buildings.  There are great opportunities to harness the energy of local people to restore and reuse the underused heritage of this very proud working class area.  This project helps to bring those connections to the fore.”

Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NI Trust said:

“We were delighted to support this imaginative and hands on project focused on the humble red brick, the building block of Belfast. HLF’s Sharing Heritage programme is a great source of funding to help communities explore the heritage that’s important to them”

Project partners include:

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, (PRONI) who are helping the group research the area through its archive of historic maps snd street directories; Hearth Housing Association, whose conservation architect will guide the group’s visit to McMaster Street; Carnegie Oldpark Library, which will be used for traditional building skills development in the red brick repair work taster.

Martin and Hamilton and Heritage Traditional Products Limited will lead the conservation-led repair of brickwork and provide materials, including tools and lime mortar.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are now available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.
  • Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.