Belfast Telegraph

Creator of Derry artwork left stunned after mounting costs force council to take it down

The Stitch in Time art installation in Londonderry
The Stitch in Time art installation in Londonderry
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The artist behind a tribute celebrating Londonderry's shirt manufacturing history has said he is shocked by council plans to put it into storage.

The huge Stitch in Time sign that has sat on top of Rosemount Factory since 2013 was part of the Lumiere Festival during the City of Culture celebrations.

Tim Etchells, who was commissioned to do the work by Artichoke Arts Company, gifted the piece to the city.

Now Derry City and Strabane District Council has decided to take it down. The decision was taken by the council's business and culture committee.

The committee said the annual cost to keep the artwork at its present site came to almost £7,000 per year, out of a total public artwork upkeep budget of £20,000 for 80 pieces.

The artist said he would like to see the decision overturned when the matter comes before the full council next week for ratification.

"I was shocked and disappointed when I found out the council has decided to remove the Stitch in Time piece," he said.

"I wasn't contacted by anyone in the council nor was Artichoke, the company who commissioned the piece from me.

"This is a piece I am really proud of and I know from feedback, both at the time of the installation and since, that people in the city really love that piece.

"As an artist you hunger for those works that really connect with people and it feels to me that work has really done that.

"It is disappointing to think that it will come down and it is shocking that the council decided this without having a conversation with Artichoke or me.

"I recognise that every council has financial priorities to juggle, but hopefully they will find a way to keep the work there which is where it belongs."

A spokeswoman for Derry and Strabane Council said there are plans to repair the artwork and then find another location for it.

She said: "While council is aware that the installation has become a popular feature, immediate action to address the structural failure is required in terms of health and safety, and long-term to address the issue of unnecessary expenditure for the ratepayer.

"In February 2019 officers were made aware of a structural failure within the Stitch in Time installation.

"An onsite assessment identified the requirement for additional recommissioning works at a cost of £12,350.

"Furthermore, the recurring annual maintenance costs on top of the agreed annual licencing fee at that particular site brings the total recurring cost for retaining the artwork to £6,950 per annum."

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