New dissolving art installation at Derry Peace Bridge

Catherine Ellis is a sculpture artist who created ‘Trace,’ an art installation that is dissolving at the foot of the Peace Bridge.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:20 pm
'Trace' by Catherine Ellis under teh Peace Bridge. Picture by Paola Bernardelli

The piece was commissioned by Northern Ireland Office in association Derry City and Strabane District Council to celebrate the Northern Ireland centenary with the theme ‘a moment in our time.’

Catherine’s proposal looked at how the development of the quayside with walkways, cycle paths and the footbridge, has successfully turned the quay and the surrounding areas into a busy outdoor leisure and exercise space and highlighted the strong connection that we have with the River Foyle.

Catherine explains, “My proposal was to cast the feet of people who traversed the quay so I asked for volunteers, people who would walk along the quayside usually and I took casts of their feet. I did it in a white air-dry clay. The idea of using the clay was that it dissipates over time. It’s an ephemeral art piece that will dissolve into the ground.

'Trace' by Catherine Ellis below the Peace Bridge. Picture by Paola Bernardelli

“It will depend on weather conditions how long it takes to dissolve. the moisture in the grass is making it dissolve quicker than it would on concrete. I decided to arrange it in a circular shape, representing the never-ending line. The cyclic movement representing a timelessness with no beginning and no end.

“There has been loads of interaction with the public. When you walk along a familiar place all the time and something new comes up, it’s an interruption to the thought process and makes you stop to think. When I was putting the piece out, a lot of people stopped and asked what I was doing and when I explained that it was peoples feet they had so many questions about the casts being from real people and the piece just disappearing - some people couldn’t get their head around that part.

“On Saturday Morning, I was walking across the bridge and there was a few ladies with their children. They had suitcases and things so I think they were staying in town. One of the youngsters said ‘What’s that mammy?’ And she explained that there were aliens there last night in Derry and they left their footprints behind.”

This isn’t Catherine’s only art piece in the city centre, she was part of an art collective on Culture Night in 2019 where they created soundscaped inspired by the four main city gates to bring the historic city walls to life. The piece was called The Stone Tapes, commissioned by the council, and Catherine was joined by local artists Amanda Walker, Janet Hoy and Stephen Lewis.

Some of the foot casts by Catherin Ellis. Pictures by Paola Bernardelli

She hopes that her latest installation at Ebrington will provoke thought and curiosity in those who see it.

A young girl looking at the art installation at Ebrington. Picture by Mickey Rooney
The feet were cast using real people who use the walkway along the quay. Picture by Paola Bernardelli