Council’s £5k repair bill for ‘Judo Players’

'Judo Players' pictured earlier this year when it was tracked down to a Council yard next door to the city's main recycling centre.
'Judo Players' pictured earlier this year when it was tracked down to a Council yard next door to the city's main recycling centre.

Derry City Council is planning to hand over £5,000 to repair a famous sculpture it owns.

‘Judo Players’, by celebrated Banbridge-born sculptor, the late F.E. McWilliam, is to be placed on show at the planned new North West Regional Sports Campus at St Columb’s Park.

Originally located at the long-gone Foyle Street Urban Park, the artwork was later relocated to the Foyle Arts Centre at Lawrence Hill.

When the Council released this building to the University of Ulster, the sculpture was placed in various locations before being loaned out for the opening of the FE McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge.

In preparation for the placing of the sculpture at the new sports centre, a “conditions report” was commissioned and, as a result, it was proposed to have the work refurbished and to replace a missing hand which had become detached due to the “poor quality of the weld”.

The plan is to have the hand re-molded and re-cast before the art work surface is re-conditioned. This work will have to be approved by the FE McWilliam estate.

It’s estimated the repair will cost approximately £5,000.

Members of Derry City Council are due to discuss the funding request at today’s monthly meeting of their Development Committee.

Earlier this year, the ‘Journal’ revealed that ‘Judo Players’ was left sitting close to the city’s main dump. In February, the famous sculpture was spotted in a corner of the Derry City Council depot at Pennyburn Industrial Estate.

At the time, Derry’s Town Clerk Sharon O’Connor immediately requested a “more suitable temporary storage location for this symbolic art piece”.

F.E. McWilliam is one of Ireland’s most famous sculptors.