Three steel sculptures and a mosaic installation have been unveiled in Derry’s Clooney estate as part of the Arts Council’s £3.8 million Re-imaging Communities Programme. The culmination of two years hard work, the project received £44,500 funding through this arts-led regeneration programme in December 2007.
Inspired by the birds, after which the streets in the Clooney estate are named, artist Susan F Hunter created the artworks in conjunction with local residents’ groups representing both sides of the community living in the estate. As part of the Flocking through the Streets project territorial markings have also now been removed from the area.
Adele Dunn, Project Officer for the Clooney Estate Residents Association, commented: “The Re-Imaging Programme has made a tremendous difference to the physical appearance of our estate. The four artworks were designed and chosen by local residents of all ages and they are very proud of what has been achieved. This, coupled with the cleaning of the curb stones, has really improved the environment in Clooney Estate and ensured that people feel welcome coming into the area.”
The ideas for the artworks emerged through community consultations and the finished installations have been widely welcomed by local residents. The mosaic has become a new focal point, adorning the wall of the community centre, while the steel sculptures, entitled Birds in Flight, The Nest and Feathers, are situated at various key locations throughout the estate.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Chair of the Shared Communities Consortium, said: “Working with a local artist, the residents of Clooney have brought a new lease of life to this area by creating a welcoming communal space for everyone to enjoy.
“The Arts Council’s Re-imaging Communities Programme has provided residents and community groups with the means to reclaim their neighborhoods and restore civic pride, which are key steps on the road to sustainable regeneration. These beautiful artworks are a result of the community’s hard work and dedication. Everyone involved in the project should feel justifiably proud of the difference they have made.”
Artist Susan F Hunter talked about her positive experience working with Clooney community groups, including young children, youth groups and the silver threads over 55 group.
“The design of the artworks began as a process where the local people got involved and chose the artworks they preferred; voting for the artwork they wanted for each of the four sites.
“Flocking through the Streets was quite an undertaking, as usually an artist has to produce one artwork for whatever project they are working on and this project set out to achieve four. I would like to think that I achieved four different artworks that reflect the four sites and the requirements of the community.
“The materials I used were mainly stainless steel, mosaic tiles and bronze casts. With the mosaic I incorporated bronze casts taken from small scale clay models that the children and youth club had created. With a project of this size, having the support of the local community employees is vital and I had a great team of people to work with.”
The Re-imaging Communities Programme is funded through the Shared Communities Consortium, led by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and includes the partners OFMDFM, DSD, DCAL, Community Relations Council, PSNI, SOLACE (Society of Local Authority and Chief Executives), International Fund for Ireland and NI Housing Executive.