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River of Light and Shade, 2013
Holywell Trust, Bishop Street, Derry
Commissioned by: Holywell Trust through Arts Council NI
Materials: Hand made, litho-printed ceramic tiles
Techniques: Large handmade tiles individually litho printed, textured and water jet cut.
Dimensions: 22 m
Brief: To make a piece of artwork for the entrance lobby of the Residential Unit in Clonskeagh. Commissioned by: Health Service Executive, Dublin
The artwork is based on shadows of different members of the communities which use the building.
This design runs along the length of the floor from door to door and has a thin blue wave at its centre which represents the core of the city- the river Foyle. On either side of this are patterned figures- walking, running, jumping, talking. The shapes are taken from silhouettes of some of the members of the groups involved in the building and the patterns on these tiles were decided by community consultation.
In the end the images decided on included:
Maps of the city (old and new), bridges over the Foyle, moral compasses, footprints, tracks made by bikes and cars, archways under the city walls, doorways of buildings, gates and railings in the vicinity of the new building, oak leaves, the teapot on Strand Road with quilts and spanners to represent women’s aspirations, migrating birds on the Foyle estuary, parts of stained glass windows and Derry walls.
The aims of the Divercity groups are to work together regardless of religious beliefs, gender and race and to share and celebrate differences and similarities.
In Northern Ireland people have a tendency to stick to their own groups. In society people can be judged by the colour of their skin, the clothes they wear, the god they worship (or not) and any manner of other things. But when we all stand side by side and the sun’s rays cast our shadows, these differences are not available for others to judge. We may all be different shapes and sizes but our differences fall away. So in this way, I am highlighting the positive connotation of shadows.
“There is strong shadow where there is much light”- Goethe
Community & Stakeholder Engagement:
Workshops were organised to take photos of people and their shadows/shapes for the artwork and to discuss the patterns used for the elements.
An initial meeting was held with representatives of the groups to inform the artist of what kind of work each was involved in and to explain to the groups the ideas behind the artwork design.
Another day was spent getting the groups together to take photographs for the silhouettes. This was intended to be a fun, drop in session, with small groups doing fun things in front of the camera (jumping, dancing, running, walking).
Throughout these two sessions discussions evolved around what patterns represent each person or group or where the group feels it could place its identity. It was then left to the artist and members of Holywell Trust to decide which images were most suitable for the designs bearing in mind some sensitive historical issues.