The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) will host a series of lunchtime lectures this month on the subject of The Urban Landscape: Civic Pride. Each talk will last about 45 minutes.
Thursday 18 April: Art and the Public Domain, with Dr Amanda Croft.
Contemporary art in Northern Ireland thrives in a wide variety of locations, from large-scale galleries like the MAC and the Ulster Museum to smaller spaces such as the Engine Room and the Mullan Galleries but additional to this is the wealth of artwork in open spaces such as the Cathedral Quarter, the City Hall and the Laganside.
Amanda Croft’s talk will concentrate on the development and the diversity of public art, whether installations, sculpture, murals or statues, in Belfast and its environs and how and why it is where, and what, it is.
Thursday 25 April: Young & Mackenzie – Networks and connections of patronage in the creation of Belfast’s built environment, c.1850-1940, with Dr Paul Harron.
An examination of one of the largest of the 19th-century's archictural and civil engineering firms, Young & Mackenzie, from c.1850 to the 1930s – whose archives are held in PRONI – reveals the extent to which social, societal and business networks and connections were involved in the receipt of design commissions.
This lecture will present material demonstrating how members of Belfast’s wealthy civic elite were joined by social, religious, commercial, civic, cultural and institutional ties, and how this led to this firm’s dominance and monopoly in the architectural field during the Victorian, Edwardian and early 20th century periods. The results of networks of such patronage still speak for themselves in many substantial buildings which exist today and which still give Belfast much of its prevailing visual appearance.
Tuesday 30 April: Clanging Belfast: The Industrial City, with Professor Stephen Royle
Belfast's industrial pomp must have been noisy: riveting at the yards, clatter from linen mills, sirens marking time at the factories. A rumbustious people packed into terraces and alleys would have added their din. Noise fades but the industrial era left other remembrances, from buildings still gracing the city to humdrum details of lives revealed in newspapers, more formal sources from the corporation, the Linen Merchants’ Association and parliamentary and other reports.
Using contemporary materials, this lecture details Belfast from a market town to the titanic/Titanic city with might in textiles, shipbuilding and other industries. The lecture does not ignore the darkness within the clanging city: health problems of mill workers; back street poverty – a ‘charnel house breaking in upon the gaiety and glitter of a bridal’ was one inelegant description – and ‘intestine broils’, sectarian conflicts that blighted Belfast in the nineteenth as well as the twentieth century.
Venue: PRONI lecture theatre
Time: 1pm on the dates shown.
Booking: Advised. Tel: 44 (0)2890 534800 or email.