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Sculpture celebrates football and physics links

13 Apr 2018
The artist who designed this year’s 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games landmark outdoor sculpture in South Korea, and the Belfast Seahorse in 2013 among many other prestigious objects worldwide, Ralf Sander, is now highlighting the links between physics and football.  

He’s been commissioned to create a unique sculpture to welcome visitors to Olympia Leisure Centre and the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. 

Talking about the inspiration for the sculpture, Ralf said: “The two-metre high sculpture is an infinite surface with only one side and only one edge; a mathematical figure called Möbius strip.

“In theory, the outcome of a football game could be precisely calculated, in practice, there are too many variables, there’s too much we don’t know.  The surface is inspired by a football strategy book I was given as a teenager which showed coloured arrows on the surface of a football field, illustrating different strategies at work, mirroring particle movements in physics.”

Led by Belfast City Council and funded by the Department for Communities, this project is one of a number of external upgrades currently underway at the Olympia site. 

When complete, the sculpture will be installed at the John Stewart Bell pedestrian entrance off Olympia Drive, named in honour of the noted physicist who came from nearby Tate’s Avenue.

Ian Snowden, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities said: “As part of the Regional Stadia Programme, the Department for Communities is pleased to have funded this dynamic and iconic addition to enhance the public realm of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. This is an exciting opportunity for the local community to engage in the realisation of the sculpture, to reflect their pride in their neighbourhood and the achievements of Dr John Bell, as one of their most accomplished sons.”

Councillor Matt Garrett, Chair of the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee said: “Thanks to significant investment, the facilities at Olympia are now state of the art. So it’s only fitting that one of the world’s best sculptors has created this stunning artwork which celebrates football and honours our heritage with a nod to Belfast physicist Dr John Stewart Bell.  We’ve made a commitment in The Belfast Agenda to make this a vibrant, attractive, connected city and the completion of this project marks another successful step on the journey to achieving that goal.”

A second strand of the project will see Ralf working with local schoolchildren and community groups to develop complementary art works to sit alongside the sculpture.

“I want the community to take ownership of the pieces. It’s exciting because I am working with all ages, including the schoolchildren who will benefit longest from what we produce - perhaps one day bringing their own children or grandchildren to see what they helped create,” added Ralf.

Among the schools taking part are Fane Street where John Bell was a pupil and Blythefield Primary School. A public information, session to allow the wider public to find out more about the project, is also planned for next month.  Details will be publicised on the council’s website and social media channels once confirmed.

Other external works, taking place as part of the council’s citywide £105 million Leisure Transformation Programme, include the creation of a 3G pitch, multi-use games area and play-park, as well as a new tree lined boulevard entrance off Boucher Road. An official opening of the external facilities in May will mark the completion of the £21.75 million investment at Olympia. For further information, go to
Ralf Sander at Blythefield 1 Ralf Sander at Blythefield 2 Ralf Sander at Blythfield 3