Belfast Telegraph

Public in dark over who fixed Derry's 'forest of light' artwork

By Donna Deeney

The lights are on, but nobody's aware of who repaired the largest piece of public art in Ireland, close to the Peace Bridge in Londonderry.

Mute Meadow, which cost £800,000, consists of 40 upright metal poles ranging in height from 6-10 metres.

They are designed to light up in different colours at night, creating a 'forest of light' across the River Foyle.

The meadow begins, quite sparsely, along the southern perimeter of the parade ground of the former Ebrington Barracks, forming a kind of pathway that leads down through the banked area where its presence grows.

From there it moves down into the space adjacent to the Foyle, where it becomes a much denser field of light.

The palette of colours illuminating the columns was inspired by the stained glass in Derry's landmark Guildhall.

However, the lights have often been broken, with problems since their installation in 2011 - much to the frustration of the two artists who created the work, Turner Prize nominee Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier.

While the public are delighted to see Mute Meadow in all its glory, neither Derry and Strabane District Council nor Stormont's Executive Office, which owns the site, admits to having carried out the repairs.

When contacted, the Executive Office said: "The Ebrington site is owned by the Executive Office, who have granted Derry City and Strabane District Council a licence for the operation, management and maintenance of the art installation known as Mute Meadow located on the site. The Executive Office has no responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of Mute Meadow."

Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that while it was involved in ongoing discussions with the Executive Office about Mute Meadow, it was "unable to provide any further details at this time".

Despite being in the dark over who turned the lights back on, the two artists behind the installation are delighted that it is now functioning as intended.

Phaophanit and Oboussier said: "We are of course delighted that Mute Meadow is now working.

"We are keen to find out if the light pattern sequencing is also functioning as it should.

"Unfortunately, we have had no information at all from either authority.

"We have always made it clear that we remain committed to Mute Meadow and ready to advise on any repairs."

SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said he hoped the issues plaguing the public art planned for the city side of the Peace Bridge could also be resolved soon.

"It is great to see Mute Meadow finally operational in all its colourful vibrancy," he said.

"I would hope that other public arts projects such as the Shirt Factory Sculpture can be progressed as soon as possible in 2018, to give both ends of the Peace Bridge wonderful examples of public art that speak of the city's past and its future."

Belfast Telegraph

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