Shortcuts statues are now ‘pride of place’

Geraldine O'Donnell, Hillcrest House, and Jay Kelly beside one of the sculptures created as part of the 'Short Cuts' project which has been nominated for a Pride of Place Award by Co-operation Ireland. (DER3413PG084)
Geraldine O'Donnell, Hillcrest House, and Jay Kelly beside one of the sculptures created as part of the 'Short Cuts' project which has been nominated for a Pride of Place Award by Co-operation Ireland. (DER3413PG084)

A series of bold new community sculptures at Top of the Hill have been nominated for an award in this year’s Pride of Place competition, with the judges’ decision expected later this week.

The four pieces, created by Derry artist Locky Morris, are situated near the Strabane Old Road and have brightened up the entire area, says Geraldine O’Donnell, Coordinator of the community development project, Top of the Hill 2010.

“The sculptures are collectively called ‘Shortcuts’ and are of young people doing everyday things, like using their mobile or going to school,” she says.

“We secured funding through the Arts Council’s Reimaging Communities fund and there was a lot of community consultation with residents and community groups about what would be created and what they’d like to see. Many spoke of the side streets that go from Top of the Hill to Spencer Road and how they were used for years by older people going to work in the factories, and now in the present day are moreso used as shortcuts by younger people going to town, so that became the common theme.”

Four real-life Derry teens are the inspiration behind the artwork, as Ms O’Donnell explains.

“The sculptures are actually of four local young people and they are so chuffed to be involved in this. It’s great to see the young people more interested in other ways of expressing themselves and taking pride in their area.

“We worked with the Housing Executive who got us the land, and with Derry City Council’s Community Relations also helped fund the clean-up of the sectarian markings on kerb stones and lamp-posts, which enhances the whole area. It just makes the place less intimidating,” she says.

The Pride of Place competition, which originates through Cooperation Ireland, will see judges visit Derry this Thursday to see ‘Shortcuts’ for themselves and judge it against the other 58 entries throughout Ireland.

“We’d just like to get some recognition out of it all,” Ms O’Donnell adds. “It would be great for people to know how we helped make our community less intimidating - maybe that will spark ideas for young people in other areas too.”