Home needed for ‘Shirts’ artwork

Shirts, Hilary Sleiman and Lesley Bond, Lumiere Derry~Londonderry 2013, Produced by Artichoke, Commissioned by UK City of Culture 2013.  Photo by Chris Hill

Shirts, Hilary Sleiman and Lesley Bond, Lumiere Derry~Londonderry 2013, Produced by Artichoke, Commissioned by UK City of Culture 2013. Photo by Chris Hill

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The artists behind the colourful ‘Shirts’ artwork displayed at the old Sinclair Factory on Abercorn Road have made an impassioned plea to have their work retained by the people of Derry, now that the four day Lumiere festival has drawn to a close.

London based artists Lesley Bond - who was born and raised in Derry - and Hilary Sleiman say they now have just ten days to find a new home for their work which sparked a great deal of conversation over the weekend.

“The artwork is Derry specific and site specific,” Hilary told the ‘Journal’. “We responded to a call by Lumiere organisers Artichoke early last year and travelled to Derry in a very dull February to see the building - on Abercorn Road - before it was tarted up.

“We just loved it - the architecture, the windows... it gave us the inspiration to play homage to both the building itself and the industry.”

While researching Derry’s shirt-making history, Lesley said she uncovered familial links to the city’s factories which made the project even more meaningful.

“I found out my father grew up in Harding Street and would have walked past the factory every day. I also saw Census information from 2011 which showed that two of my uncles worked as collar cutters.”

The two women arrived in Derry in the middle of last week to oversee the erection of the installation and said they have been “blown away” by their experience in Derry.

Hilary said: “The entire thing has been such a positive experience. I have fallen in love with this city and its people.

“The place has been buzzing and there has been such a positive reaction to the project that we feel it is only the start of a conversation.”

The women firmly believe that this piece - along with other key Derry specific pieces of artwork, including ‘A Stitch in Time’ on the old Rosemount Factory, and ‘Teenage Dreams’ on the BT building, should be kept in the city.

But their own artwork, they believe offers something a little different. “This city has such a rich heritage it should be celebrated and celebrated permanently.

“While the artwork we have created is quite flexible - it could be displayed across different areas of the city, on different buildings - it was designed specifically with the Sinclair building in mind and it would be brilliant to see it stay there - at the gateway to the city.”

Both Hilary and Lesley wanted to thank the people of Derry for their overwhelming support over the weekend. They also paid tribute to the festival’s organisers Lumiere who made the entire experience so unforgettable.

“We had so many conversations with women over the weekend about the shirt factory industry - it would be great to see that continued.”

To contact the women email lesleybond@hotmail.com