Cathedral Quarter Trust and University of Atypical Helping To Brighten Up Royal Avenue and parts of Cathedral Quarter

This autumn Royal Avenue has been brightened up thanks to a joint project from Cathedral Quarter Trust and University of Atypical that features a combination of specially commissioned street art and a bespoke LED lighting scheme. 

Funded by Belfast City Council’s Community Cluster Grant Scheme, the theme for the project was ‘A year in the life of the Cathedral Quarter’ and the final works, by talented local artist James Ashe, feature a range of playful scenes and moments familiar from the Cathedral Quarter area.

Director of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, Susan Picken said: “We have been looking at ways of brightening up the area for some time and this project, with the support of Belfast City Council, will inject some much needed light and colour into the lower Royal Avenue area.

We hope that the fun and colourful mix of shutter art, lighting and window vinyls will brighten up the day of everyone who visits and works in the Cathedral Quarter”.  

In addition to bespoke LED light installations and shutter art, a series of specially designed window vinyls featuring iconic buildings from across Belfast have been installed in the windows of MACC Hair on Royal Avenue. 

Councillor Ryan Murphy, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee said: “It’s great to see Royal Avenue and the Cathedral Quarter Area being enhanced through our Business Cluster and Community Grant Programme. We’re committed to stimulating footfall in city centre, boosting businesses and making the area more attractive and enjoyable to spend time in. 

“Cathedral Quarter Trust and the University of Atypical’s decision to commission Belfast based artist and illustrator James Ashe brings a real authenticity and energy to the project. 

“We’re looking forward to making city centre more accessible for those walking, wheeling and cycling, creating greener and more vibrant streets, making connections with surrounding communities and encouraging city centre living through A Bolder Vision for Belfast.”

Owner of MACC Hair, Ciaran Connolly, expressed his happiness with the project, explaining how he believes it to be a positive move for the area.

He said: “It’s always good to be updating the city centre. We’re in such a position that we would be missing out if not trying to utilise the area of the windows.

“When surroundings look good, it changes people’s attitudes. It changes their attitude and the way they look at things. That’s why we wanted to get involved.”

Ciaran, who was born in New Zealand, said the project has helped to instil a renewed sense of pride in the city.

He explained: “We’ve had a lot of people asking where we had it done, who the designer is. They’re a very proud city as well, like most cities and most people in cities, they’re very proud of where they’ve come from. It’s all to do with Belfast so they love it.

“I think it’s reminding people of Belfast and what’s around them.” 

Deirdre McKenna, Project Officer at the University of Atypical, who helped to bring this project to life, said: “The University of Atypical for arts and disability are delighted to have worked with Cathedral Quarter Trust and local businesses to enhance this colourful and historical area. We hope this project will animate our street and welcome our neighbours at Ulster University’s newly opened campus. 

“Following an open call for submissions of interest by artists, we were delighted to have co commissioned artist James Ashe to develop new artworks to enhance our neighbourhood alongside new programmable lighting to add a festive feeling year round.”

Lead artist James Ashe said he was delighted to have been selected for the project.

“I’m thrilled to have been chosen, it’s a big step up as I’ve never had my work utilised in a public domain setting before. There’s going to be lots of colour and buzz whenever the work is finished”

“The commission came at a time where my work was still very uncertain…so it’s been very positive to see University of Atypical and Cathedral Quarter Trust put the arts at the forefront for their vision for Royal Avenue.”

Also joining in the project is Lebanese restaurant Deerah. Saeb Shaath, the manager, said he is thrilled to be taking part and believes that the entire project has helped enliven and brighten the area.

He said: “I think the design on our shutter is amazing; it will attract customers to us and help in creating a positive image for this part of Royal Avenue.

Current participating venues in the project are:

  • 105-107 Royal Avenue, BT1 1FF
  • Deerah, 107 Royal Avenue, BT1 1FF (before 11am)
  • 109-113 Royal Avenue – Cathedral Quarter Managed Workspace
  • MACC Hair, 143 Royal Avenue, BT1 BT1 1FH
  • Plus more shutter art pieces will be popping up in various locations in Cathedral Quarter throughout the month of October 
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