Altogether, it took 30,000 wooden pegs, 2,000 tons of soil and 2,000 tons of sand for artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada to create his stunning, 11-acre portrait of a little girl for the opening of this year's Belfast Festival at Queens.
The enormous artwork, named "Wish" by Rodriguez-Gerada, is the largest land art portrait in the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to the Belfast Telegraph. Best visible by plane or helicopter, the portrait took 18 months of planning and one month of construction to complete.
"Wish wasn't something that just got presented, it was a process," Rodriguez-Gerada told the Telegraph. "Getting to know the city on multiple trips and letting the creative flow helped bring the image to me of what I wanted to do."
The Cuban-American Rodriguez-Gerada is the Belfast Festival at Queen's first artist in residence. Known for his larger-than-life portraiture, one of Rodriguez-Gerada's first international successes was a large image of Barack Obama's face, completed in 2008 using 650 tons of sand and gravel spread out over 2.5 acres, reports the Irish Times.
For "Wish," Rodriguez-Gerada said he purposefully chose an anonymous child, spotted on a research trip to Belfast this summer.
“It was very important for me that the viewer has no idea if this girl is Catholic, Protestant, or other,” he told the Irish Times. “She is simply a beautiful child, her eyes staring out at the future, full of joy.”
Visitors to the festival, which runs from October 17 to the 27, have the opportunity to view the artwork during special tours led high up on adjacent buildings, and can also walk through the portrait at ground level.