Re-imaging St Columb’s Wells with Colmcille wood sculptures

In 2013, Eden Place Arts Centre, inspired by Judi Logue and Liam Kennedy and supported by Derry’s City of Culture year, took part in the Colmcille Wood Sculpture Project, a hugely impressive initiative that resulted in the creation of 10 beautiful wood sculptures commemorating the life of St Colmcille and displayed at Pilots Row Community Centre.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 10:50 am
The Colmcille display at St Columb's Wells in the Bogside.

Eight years later, these stunningly refurbished sculptures are being redisplayed’ at St Columb’s Wells in the Bogside as part of events marking the 1500 th anniversary of the birth of St Colmcille.

With the financial assistance of the Housing Executive and Department for Communities, and the support of local groups and residents - including Eden Place Arts Centre, Áras Cholmcille, Triax Neighbourhood Management Team (TNMT) and North West Regional College (NWRC) - the sculptures create a striking addition to the local area, helping to transform the physical appearance of “The Wells” whilst, at the same time, marking the area’s centuries old connections with St Colmcille.

The artworks, individually, mark a significant element of St Colmcille’s life and each was produced by a separate wood carver. Whilst each carving is a work of art in its own right, together they provide an overview, with accompanying text, of the life of Colmcille.

One of the beautifully crafted wood sculptures.

Artists Desi McKinney, Aileen MacManus, John Stevenson, Jimmy Smyth, Connell McGinley, Liam Kennedy, Helen Shiels, Masoud Baghi and Johanna Kelly, have all given permission for their works to be displayed in “The Wells”, with many of them delighted at such an appropriate and public location for their work.

Judi Logue, Eden Place Arts Centre Co-ordinator, said: “I am absolutely delighted for The Colmcille Project to be relocated in The Wells in this special 1500th anniversary year where it will be widely admired by both locals and tourists alike.”

Ivor Doherty, of Áras Cholmcille, added: “This project will highlight the St. Columb’s Wells location and will attract people to  visit. Aras Cholmcille wishes the project well and, maybe, if you visit the Wells, you might travel the extra 100 yards to visit Aras Cholmcille and the beautiful church of St. Columba at Long Tower.”

Eddie Doherty, Housing Executive Area Manager for Derry City and Strabane, said: “The amazing sculptures add interest and bring a positive focus to the area; the local community here can be very proud of the work they’ve achieved. Well done to all involved.”

Hard at work erecting the display at St Columb's Wells.

Colm Barton, of the Triax Neighbourhood Management Team, which helped co-ordinate the project, said: ”I would like to thank the Housing Executive and the Department of Communities for making this project possible, the NWRC for their kind assistance and Judi, Liam, Aileen and Ivor Doherty for making it happen. Most of all I would like to thank the residents of the Wells and the artists involved for permitting us to make this proposal a reality.”