The Titanic floats again in Victoria Square Belfast

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Titanic balloons
Image caption,
Over 14,000 balloons were used to create the sculpture

A new 45-ft balloon sculpture celebrating the Titanic is being unveiled at Victoria Square in Belfast.

The sculpture will be covered in more than 14,000 balloons and is 1/22 scale model of the Titanic itself.

It was crafted by Portadown-based sculptor Fiona Fisher and her team.

The sculpture was commissioned by Victoria Square in conjunction with the Titanic Foundation.The floating artwork will act as a centre-piece for a month-long series of events for the Titanic's 100th anniversary.

As part of the commemorations, a Titanic-themed art exhibition will feature alongside a 3D representation of the ship's famous staircase.

It is hoped the model will qualify as the world's biggest balloon exhibition of the Titanic.

What began as a hobby for Ms Fisher soon turned into a full-time job that has taken her around the world over the last 13 years.

"Luckily I've been to Dallas, Las Vegas, Buenos Aires, Trinidad, Japan, Lebanon, Taiwan, Russia, and pretty much all over Europe," she said.

"I've made lots of sculptures. A replica of a Ferrari, a giant Guinness pint and lots of different things."

It is not the first time Victoria Square has attempted to attract customers using art work.

Last April, an 18-tonne sand sculpture of the Giant's Causeway was commissioned by the centre in conjunction with the National Trust.

Ultimately that ended in disappointment as vandals destroyed the attraction after just two weeks.

When asked if she was worried someone might destroy the sculpture, Ms Fisher warned it might not be a good idea.

"If somebody tried to jump on top of ours I think they'd be in for a shock. They'd fall 20-ft or more so I don't think that'd be a good idea."

The concept came about almost by accident as Ms Fisher was putting up elaborate balloon decorations in the shopping complex as part of last years' Halloween celebrations.

"Last October, we were putting up decorations for the centre and the manager suggested doing something for the Titanic anniversary. We suggested doing something in balloons and that's where it all started from."

Although the ambitious structure is not the world's largest balloon model, it is in the process of being verified by Guinness World Records as the biggest balloon model of the Titanic.

Victoria Square Centre manager Hugh Black said the display was "fabulous".

"The Titanic theme is great for Belfast. The whole Titanic experience is great for the Northern Ireland tourism industry and we want to be a part of it. I think it will bring a lot of people," he said.

The temporary sculpture will remain in place for about two to three weeks at which point air will begin to seep from the balloons.

The month-long event in the shopping complex will also raise money for the RLNI and is backed by a number of local celebrities including the BBC's Alan Simpson.