Monday, 9 May 2011


By Michael Hegarty
Director, PLACE

Wordscape is a joint initiative by PLACE with the Verbal Arts Centre. The buildings, landscapes, townscapes and byways of Ulster have helped define and inform literature, poetry and spoken language. This collaboration will examine the context for the creation of written work and the design of towns, landscape and architecture. The project will develop towards the compilation of a high quality exhibition and high quality publication on the language and architecture of Ulster. At present we have completed the first stage of a web-based element. You can view it online at:

Landscape, townscape, architecture and places have always informed poetry, prose and drama. This is particularly true with the rich literary output created from Northern Ireland. The landscape inspiration for Seamus Heaney has been well explored, Louis MacNeice often referenced the buildings of Belfast and other writers have been similarly inspired. "The bare bones of a fanlight over a hungry door" uses the architecture of Belfast to exude the social circumstances of a time. The influence of literature and critical analysis on the built environment can similarly be shown. The stone laid to mark the construction of St. Columb’s Cathedral, Derry dates from 1633, and is inscribed: If stones could speak, then London's praise should sound, Who built this church and city from the ground.
This new initiative Wordscape celebrates how stones can speak.
PLACE would like to involve others with this initiative. You can identifying architecture that inspired or is inspired by texts of prose and poetry - we'd like some of you to draw, photograph, video and otherwise document the cross-referenced texts and places. These will be located around Northern Ireland. The project and your work will be published on the web.

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