Three separate public art installations costing almost £1m in Londonderry have malfunctioned over the past two years, it has emerged.
One of the three installations is Ireland's largest public art project and is still not working a year after it was launched. The £800,000 Mute Meadow project is one of a trio of major public art pieces involving illuminations along the banks of the River Foyle which are no longer operational. Questions are being asked about why the public has been literally left in the dark over what is going on with the projects.
Derry's regeneration company Ilex has joint responsibility with Derry City Council and the Arts Council for the Mute Meadow at Ebrington.
Ilex has confirmed the project been plagued by problems over the past year involving power fluctuations affecting software which runs the artwork.
Derry City Council meanwhile has responsibility with Sustrans for maintaining the 2005 Third Bridge project, situated on dual sites at Prehen and Foyle Road.
It was unclear yesterday how much had been spent on the artwork.
The local authority also went into partnership with the Western Health Trust for the £26,000 Gransha Beacon project which was twinned with a second light installation at Tower Museum.
Both of the latter — also installed in 2005 — were supposed to light up the night sky.
The Gransha beacon has now been broken for two years.
Ilex director of communications Mo Durkan said all three bodies involved with Mute Meadow were working together to sort out the issues.
Ilex said they could not give a date for when the project will be fully functioning but said they hoped to have it up and running “way before 2013” and Derry’s City of Culture year.
A spokeswoman for Derry City Council meanwhile said that they and the Western Trust have been trying to address the issues at Gransha and the Tower Museum since April and hope to have the installations fully reinstated by 2013.
She also confirmed that work was being done to fix the Third Bridge project, funded by the Department Culture Arts and Leisure, by the end of this week.
Mute Meadows was to be a defining literal and metaphorical stake in the ground showing Derry as a world-class city.
The mammoth lighting project was launched amid much fanfare a year ago during the Peace Bridge opening celebrations. Within days, however, the lights had gone out.
Its 40 pairs of steel columns slope down from the former parade ground at Ebrington to the banks of the River Foyle.
The £800,000 artwork’s columns range in height from six to 10 metres and are supposed to light up in colours based on the stained glass windows at the Guildhall. It was created by Turner Prize nominee Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier.
Artist Noah Rose developed the artwork along a new cycle and pathway route stretching from Prehen on the east bank of the Foyle across the Craigavon Bridge and over to the Foyle Road area in the west.
The art work is in two halves sited on opposite river banks. Two viewing structures made from a 120-year-old disused railway foot-bridge are symbolically cut in half.
At night the empty span is connected by a laser light of virtual colours, a virtual bridge to symbolise the uniting of divided halves. The project, installed in 2005, was supported by Derry County Council, Arts Council Northern Ireland, National Lottery Award, Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (Creativity Seed Fund), and Education for Mutual Understanding.
The Gransha Light Beacon was installed in the grounds of Gransha overlooking the River Foyle at the end of October 2005.
It was meant to symbolically link the two sides of the city.
The project was twinned with another light installation on the roof of the Tower Museum in the city centre. A pathway bordered by plants and shrubs was meant to guide visitors to the beacon at Gransha.