Sunday, 15 April 2007

Phantom iceberg

Thinking of the Titanic ramming the iceberg (as you do), I wondered whatever happened to the bizarre plan by Belfast artist Rita Duffy to tow an iceberg from Norway to Belfast. That was two years ago now and the plan seems to be have frozen solid – or maybe it just melted and sank.

There was a lively debate at the time over whether the plan was actually feasible or not – could the iceberg be moved fast enough to reach Belfast intact or would it just thaw at a speed of knots as soon as it reached warmer waters? Enough heat was generated to melt several icebergs but no firm conclusion was ever reached and Rita herself had nothing to add.

She’s maintained a glacial silence on the subject ever since so I have to assume the whole idea was either a clever publicity stunt or a brilliant kind of conceptual art in which you just imagine the work of art without ever seeing anything physical.

She pictured it so vividly it’s almost as if it actually happened – surely I remember that colossal mountain of ice moored off Bangor and all the goggle-eyed locals unable to tear themselves away from the amazing spectacle? Or the well-heeled Gold Coast residents rowing out to it and hacking off lumps of ice for their next cocktail party (as one cynic suggested on Slugger O’Toole).

Of course it would probably be forbidden on safety grounds anyway – a massive iceberg in Belfast Lough would be an obvious hazard to shipping the same as the one that wrecked the Titanic. With the rising number of cruise liners surging up and down the lough to show off our newly fashionable city to curious tourists, there would be a fresh disaster waiting to happen.

I don’t think Northern Ireland would ever live it down if another liner hit another iceberg and the exhausted survivors clambered ashore at Bangor Marina. Those struggling to stay alive would probably give up on seeing the unspeakably hideous concrete embankments protecting all the luxury yachts.

So does anyone know – has the plan just been put on ice or is it dead in the water?


Wisewebwoman said...

A colleague in London wrote last summer that the council was considering towing icebergs up the Thames to keep the city cool in the record-breaking heatwaves. I rather prefer what nearly happened in Belfast :>).
Though from what I hear, the icebergs are difficult to hunt down these days. Hades has arrived in the North Pole.....

Nick said...

Thanks for that,www. That story had escaped me. It was run first by the Times, but Thames Water promptly denied it and said the idea of towing icebergs to drought-stricken areas had never been tried anywhere in the world and they had no intention of trying it themselves. Pity. They could have been Rita Duffy's guinea pigs!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oh, my. I was in Google Images looking for a picture of an iceberg and selected this one. When I clicked on it, your blog opened.

How really strange.

Nick said...

That's an amazing coincidence, Heart. Actually a lot of people find my blog through images I've used - the one of a Cuban prostitute comes up a lot!!