Japanese artist hits out at attacks on Five Apples sculpture in Ballymena
The Japanese artist behind the Five Apples public sculpture in Ballymena has spoken of his upset at four attacks by vandals since Monday's unveiling in People's Park.
Shiro Masuyama designed the eye-catching pieces following community workshops with Dunclug and Doury Road residents to reflect themes such as community, trust, the future and to be "a symbol of aspiration for continued peace".
Responses to the project supported by the Art Council of Northern Ireland's Building Peace Through the Arts programme, Dunclug Partnership and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been largely positive, but so far the stems on the apples have been broken on four occasions, prompting Masuyama to share his thoughts online.
Of the vandals, Mr Masuyama said: "They like destroying what other people love."
After the third attack the artist tried to remain positive and took it as an opportunity to "meet many local people in Ballymena while fixing the sculptures". But after the fourth attack on Thursday night he wrote on his website of his disappointment under the heading 'Continuous Vandalism'.
"Most of the friends around me have started advising me that I should start keeping away from the sculptures.
"But as a professional artist I cannot leave the sculptures with the terrible situation.
"Even after the official launch, the project has not finished yet."
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Billy Ashe told the Belfast Telegraph attacks on the project were "an attack on the community".
He appealed for the vandals to stop their futile actions.
"I am sad to hear they have been vandalised," Mr Ashe said.
"I would ask whoever is doing it to desist.
"It is a community project and an attack on the project is an attack on the community itself.
"I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the police."