A MAGNIFICENT piece of art developed by a Whiteabbey sculptor and a Newtownabbey company is preparing for take off and will soon be revealed by Lisburn City Council.
Sculptor John Sherlock and metal fabricators PF Copeland have been working on the sculpture which celebrates pioneer aviator Harry Ferguson, who in 1909 was the first Irishman to design, build and fly his own aeroplane.
The steel and bronze sculpture will be placed on the roundabout at the A1 dual carriageway, under the Hillsborough fly-over and will be seen by over 30,000 passing motorists each day.
Ferguson was born and grew up just a few miles from Lisburn and became one of the most outstanding engineers and inventors of the 20th century.
Despite being famous for the iconic Ferguson tractor which helped to revolutionise farming all over the world, few people are aware of his great exploits as one of the earliest pilots and makers of aircraft.
Sherlock’s striking sculpture will be a fitting legacy to celebrate his aviation achievements, and remind the public of his historic achievements.
Lisburn councillor Jim Dillon commented: “We’re delighted with the piece which is now is almost complete, and we’re confident it will become a much-enjoyed and recognised public landmark on this very busy thoroughfare.”
The sculpture is a joint venture between top sculptor John Sherlock OBE, and PF Copeland, one of Ireland’s leading metal fabricators, based in Newtownabbey, which has built some of Northern Ireland’s most striking pieces of public art.
“We were thrilled to have been awarded this prestigious commission,” commented Mr Sherlock.
“It’s a happy coincidence that both Mark Copeland and myself are also qualified pilots, and we’re in awe of Ferguson for his amazing feat to get his creation to actually fly and land successfully.
“Our artistic concept is a combination of stainless steel and bronze. We believe it’s quite a dramatic piece, and that the public will enjoy it, and the remarkable man it celebrates.”
The sculpture shows Harry’s splendid aircraft as it’s just about to make its historic landing, with Ferguson waving to the watching crowds in celebratory mood.
Mark Copeland commented: “This is an exciting and important commission for our company. It’s also been a challenging piece from a technical and structural point of view.
“However, we’re no strangers to producing complex public artwork, having completed such local pieces as ‘Nuala with the Hula’ in Belfast and the ‘Spirit of Belfast’ in Cornmarket.
“We’re certain the Ferguson sculpture will be well received by the public and that Lisburn will further enhance their civic environment with this unique installation.”