Belfast Telegraph

Public praises council U-turn over removing Derry artwork

The large A Stitch in Time illumination paying homage to factory workers has been saved following a public outcry
The large A Stitch in Time illumination paying homage to factory workers has been saved following a public outcry
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A u-turn over a council decision to take down a public artwork that paid homage to Londonderry's factory workers has been described as a people's victory by the arts company director who commissioned the piece.

The large 'A Stitch in Time' piece has been a much-loved illumination on top of Rosemount factory since 2013 when it was first installed as part of the Lumiere event for the City of Culture celebrations.

In September, Derry and Strabane councillors voted to take the piece down over safety concerns and the cost of repairs, estimated at over £12,300, which would be taken from the council's total budget of £20,000 for artwork maintenance.

This was met by a massive public backlash and in response, this week a decision was taken by the council's Business and Culture Committee to leave the artwork where it is.

Among those who welcomed the move was Artichoke director Helen Marriage, who commissioned the piece.

She said: "We were very aware of the significance of this piece when we were doing it and we thought it would be fitting for a permanent piece to be out in the community rather than in the city centre.

"We talked to women who had worked in Rosemount factory and the artist came up with the phrase A Stitch in Time because of the history of sewing and the relationship to that building.

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"I think the arts are always an easy thing to cut because they seem like an irrelevance. But what this has proved is that it is not irrelevant to people's lives and in that sense this is a real victory for art and for people in the community."

Former factory worker Jeanette Warke said it was important the artwork wasn't taken down.

She said: "Like hundreds of other people I worked in the Rosemount factory and I have loved seeing that sign there.

"The bonds of friendship forged in the factories were never broken through all this city endured and the sign was a symbol of that. It lit up the dark skies and I was saddened when I heard it was going to come down so I am glad the councillors have reversed their earlier decision."

SDLP councillor Angela Dobbins added: "The shirt factories of Derry are our heritage but unfortunately they are a thing of the past and when you lose something that was the backbone of this city, it is important to remember the contribution those who worked in the factories made.

"We are in council to represent the people who voted for us and it was clear how much the people wanted this tribute piece to stay where it is."

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