Artist ‘appalled’ at sculpture demolition

Joan Walsh pictured beside a section of her 'City People' sculpture at Foyle Street. [24-02-12 SML 2]
Joan Walsh pictured beside a section of her 'City People' sculpture at Foyle Street. [24-02-12 SML 2]

An internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been exhibited around the world says she’s appalled that her award-winning public sculpture in Derry was demolished to make way for a car park.

Joan Walsh-Smith has just been informed that her ‘City People’ sculpture - a focal point of Foyle Street Urban Park which was bulldozed in the mid-1990s to make way for a car park - was not only torn down but that no effort was made to preserve it.

Mrs. Walsh-Smith recently queried the whereabouts of the Arts Council commissioned project after trying to locate it on Google street maps.

She says that, when she realised that Foyle Street had been redeveloped, she assumed her artwork had been relocated elsewhere or removed and preserved.

Derry City Council has confirmed that Mrs. Walsh-Smith’s 30 metre long public artwork - unveiled in the 1970s - was “decommissioned”.

Mrs. Walsh-Smith told the ‘Journal’ she was “shocked and appalled” to learn of the demolition, branding it a “stupenduous act of cultural vandalism.”

A spokesperson for Derry City Council said: “It is unfortunate that this piece of work was decommissioned and demolished and we fully acknowledge that, during its time, it served the public life of the city.“

See page 18 for full story.