Local digital artist Katya Solomatina is collaborating with Belfast’s Sailortown Regeneration Group to explore new ways to preserve heritage and local stories through interactive digital sculpture and storytelling.

The Memory Anchors project is one of six prototypes funded by the £120,000 Belfast HUB-IN Challenge Fund which is being delivered by Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office in partnership with the Maritime Belfast Trust to harness digital innovation to help animate and enrich the city’s Maritime Mile.

Councillor Tina Black, digital artist Katya Solomatina, and Jenna Crymble from Maritime Belfast Trust holding Maritime Belfast sign
Belfast City Councillor Tina Black, digital artist Katya Solomatina, and Jenna Crymble from the Maritime Belfast Trust.

Through co-creations sessions with residents who grew up in Sailortown and local children, Katya used digital sculpting, AI-driven verbal art, photogrammetry and NeRF scanning (extracting 3D information from 2D images), sound recording, and improvisational storytelling to capture memories and stories to create immersive art pieces.

These interactive art pieces form a Treasure Hunt Quest which visitors can explore from 13 April to 31 August 2024 using their mobile phone.

Starting at the Glass of Thrones stained glass window outside the AC Hotel Belfast and following the route towards Sailortown, visitors can discover hidden virtual objects created by the Sailortown community.

About Sailortown

Sailortown, located on the Maritime Mile, is the oldest remaining residential area with links to Belfast Harbour and its dockers, and once had over 5,000 people packed into its small, terraced streets. The area was where dockers and immigrant families settled while seeking work in the increasingly busy shipyards and docks. The men worked on the docks or went to sea while the women looked after families and found work in the local linen mills.

Project partners and support

This project has been supported by a range of organisations, community groups and businesses along the Maritime Mile.

  • Sailortown Regeneration Group
  • Shared History Interpretive Project
  • Sailortown residents
  • Other experts leading in their field: Elaine McGinn, Bronagh Lawson, Ivan Isakov, Zan Dani and Luke Lucas
  • Students Michael Thompson and Jasmine Sheppard – studying BDes (Hons) Animation at Ulster University
  • Digital Catapult
  • Dockers Boxing Club
  • Patsy Quinns Boxing Club
  • Music from the American Bar’s Nightingale Singing Sessions and Folk Sessions
  • Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office
  • Maritime Belfast Trust

More information

Find out more about Memory Anchors at www.katyasolomatina.com/memoryanchors.

Find out more about the Belfast HUB-IN Challenge Fund at www.smartbelfast.city/story/belfast-hub-in-funding.

Find out more about Belfast’s Maritime Mile at www.maritime-mile.com.

The Belfast HUB-IN project is part of a €7.9 million European initiative that aims to transform historic urban areas through innovation and spread public benefits from urban regeneration. It’s funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 869429.