‘Hands Across the Divide’ sculpture maquette purchased by Derry & Strabane Council

A maquette of the iconic ‘Hands Across the Divide’ sculpture that sits at the end of the Craigavon Bridge will be purchased by Derry City and Strabane Council at the cost of £4,000 with the monies from the sale being donated to assist the care of a boy who has Cerebral Palsy and Autism.

Council’s Museum Service was approached by Pauline Ross from The Playhouse who owned the ‘maquette’ of the sculpture with a view of purchasing it for the Museum Collections. The mother of the child who will benefit from the donation worked in the Playhouse until she had to leave her job to care full time for her child.

The artwork is an iconic piece which represents the city trying to emerge from conflict during the Troubles. 

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The image of two people reaching out to shake hands in Derry, created by local artist Maurice Harron, celebrates reconciliation and was unveiled in 1992, to mark the twentieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The maquette of the sculpture measures 16 inches tall by 19 inches in length and is approximately 20kg in weight.

Members of the Business and Culture Committee were told ‘this is a unique opportunity and a valuable addition to the council’s artwork’.

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue described it as a ‘win win’ situation as the maquette would be ‘an asset’ to council with the money from the sale ‘going to help a worthwhile cause’.

SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell said: “The Hands Across the Divide is an iconic piece of Derry art and it welcomes people into the city side when they cross the Craigavon Bridge.

“It tells a tale of a divided people and divided society reaching out the hand of friendship in efforts to achieve reconciliation and mutual respect.

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“Derry should be proud of this piece and the peace we have achieved and it’s only right and proper that we have this maquette on display in the Tower Museum.”

There is another maquette in the Clinton Collection in The White House, Washington. It was presented to President Bill Clinton with his wife Hillary Clinton.

By Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter