Major public artwork proposed

The Angel of the North has brought a steady flow of tourists to Gateshead in England.
The Angel of the North has brought a steady flow of tourists to Gateshead in England.

Derry & Strabane Council has announced proposals to develop a major new public art work across various local sites and costing up to £2m.

Council officers have suggested an international artist of renown could be commissioned to create the art work across as many as nine locations.

Could the Sperrins get its own public artwork which could become as iconic as the Kelpies in Scotland?

Could the Sperrins get its own public artwork which could become as iconic as the Kelpies in Scotland?

The project is to be developed along with Fermanagh Omagh, Mid Ulster and Causeway Coast and Glens Councils, with each local authority committing up to £375,000.

The new proposed artwork, Council’s Business & Culture Committee was told at a meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday, would “serve to drive national and international visitors into the heart of our rural area”.

Sites across the Sperrin Mountains on have been suggested as possible locations for the project.

If successful the project could emulate the success of other major art projects such as the Angel of the North in Gateshead and the Kelpies outside Edinburgh.

A report brought before the Committee this week stated: “A number of sites will be put forward to the artist as potential sites based on their availability for Councils to install a public art piece on and their short and long term accessibility for construction and subsequent public access.”

A Council officer told the Committee: “Officers are proposing to apply for the current round of funding under the Rural Tourism Scheme to fund the technical feasibility required and the capital works and artists fee for the major work. This would be for up to £500,000 with a requirement for 25 per cent match funding. Other sources of funding will be investigated including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and private investors.

“There will be a potential request to each Council of up to £375,000 over the duration of the project which if successful for Rural Funding must be completed by 2021 however it is hoped this would be much less with additional funding secured.”

The Committee gave its approval “in principle” to proceed with the scoping of this project and to submit an expression of interest to the current Rural Tourism Scheme.

The local Council area already has a number of public art works including the Tinnies in Strabane and Hands Across the Bridge in Derry.

However Mute Meadows was beset by technical problems at its site in Ebrington, while the separate, planned Factory Girls sculpture project has been hit by delays stretching back years.