Belfast Telegraph

Temple art project in Derry: Thousands to witness ceremonial burning of David Best structure at Bard’s Hill

By Donna Deeney

An estimated 20,000 people are expected at the site of the radical arts project Temple to watch it go up in flames.

All week thousands of people have come to the site at the top of Bard’s Hill in the Waterside to wonder at the beauty and majesty of the 70ft structure designed by the artist David Best ahead of the ceremonial burning tonight.

While many people suggest it would be a shame to set fire to such a wonderful piece of art, Mr Best said the whole point of bringing the project to Northern Ireland and setting fire to it was to turn the traditional view of bonfires on its head and show that instead of being divisive they can be a symbol that unites the two communities.

After visiting Temple, Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said the artwork should inspire those behind the more traditional bonfires to think again.

He said: “It really is a fantastic work, decorating one of the finest vistas in the city.

“David Best is to be commended for bringing people together in a spirit of harmony and rebirth and that cannot be bad.

“I spoke with a number of visitors who concentrated on exorcising things from their own past.

“Personally I couldn’t help but think of how we could use the event to better our future.

“The Temple has proved that the capability exists to organise, build and steward/police a bonfire which will attract thousands of people.

“Yet unlike the usual aftermath of August 15 there will be no drunk children, no destruction of people’s property, the community will not be under siege, not held to ransom by a sizeable minority who insist on fires, no stealing of wood or tyres to burn and resulting in no environmental damage.

“The onus then on civic leaders is to ensure the safety of these events and in particular children who flock to them.

“I will be working toward that goal now rather than waiting until July.

“I will be asking all stakeholders, from council to police and, of course, those members of the community affected by August 15 fires to come together in order that a solution to the issue is found earlier than later.

“I think it is important that we outline any Derry City Council initiatives to incentivise those communities who chose not to host a bonfire on the 15th night.”



Collaboration is central to artist David Best's work and since 2000 he has been building his soaring, ornately carved temples at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

Best's temple projects were ritually burned from 2000 to 2004. The event, which started in 1986, is described as "an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression and radical self-reliance".

Further reading

Temple art project in Derry could lead to drugs and orgies, claim ministers

Thousands marvel at Derry's towering temple

Artist to blaze a trail in Derry as he turns art into towering inferno 

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