The Bogside Artists’ People’s Gallery is to be lit up at night after funding for the project was endorsed by local councillors.
The £40,000 project, which will showcase the popular gable artworks after dark, is due to be completed by April 2018 .
The Bogside Artists, brothers Tom and the late William Kelly, and their friend Kevin Hasson, began the series of murals over 20 years ago. The iconic large-scale artworks along Rossville Street include depictions of key events during the Troubles and have been internationally lauded for the skill shown in portraying the story and experiences of local people.
Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Business & Culture Committee was told at its monthly meeting on Tuesday that the Housing Executive has sent a conditional letter of offer of £20,000 towards the project, with the committee being asked to agree to match this funding so it can go ahead.
A council officer said that the illumination of the 12 Bogside murals follows on from a 2013 lighting strategy which has already seen the City Walls, St Columb’s Cathedral and The Playhouse lit up.
“The original business case for the scheme had many more installations including the ‘People’s Gallery’ in the Bogside. However, due to budget constraints, several installations had to be removed. These have remained on our list of capital projects,” she said.
She said that in 2016, the Bogside Artists came to the council and asked if this project could be progressed.
“The scheme has a major tourist benefit as it increases the visibility and accessibility of the ‘People’s Gallery’,” the council officer added.
Committee chair, Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue, welcomed the project and said it “will enhance the murals but also I hope enhance safety for the people living in the Bogside.”
Proposing that the committee back the scheme, Independent Colr. Darren O’Reilly pledged his full support.
Seconding the proposal, SDLP Colr. Shauna Cusack said: “These works of art create the backdrop for most of the imagery of our city. Anything we can do to promote that is welcome.”
Independent Colr. Sean Carr also endorsed the project, saying that it would provide a boost for the night-time economy in the Bogside. Colr. Carr also asked about the time-frame for the project, to which Council Director of Business & Culture, Stephen Gillespie, replied that it was hoped to have the project completed by the end of the financial year.
The council is now set to proceed to tender for a contractor to install the lighting.