Welcome to the City of Culture 2013: Derry, otherwise known as Londonderry. It may be small, but never underestimate the talent hidden in the streets. Complete with art galleries, artsy shops, and public art, the small town has a bit of everything.
Ask anyone on the streets, and they’ll know about the Grass House, a piece of public art just over the Peace Bridge, which can be considered a piece of art itself. The Grass House is an old military building which has stood vacant for years. It’s cold exterior has been covered in grass which must be watered three times a day. The process of covering the house was tedious. First, they put clay against the stone and then pressed the grass into it. It is a constantly evolving piece of public art, changing color and risking vandalism. It has been a source of controversy as well as a catalyst for artistic debate in the city and surrounding area.
The Peace Bridge was built in 2010, and was funded by the European Union. At night, purple lights illuminate the walkway and a spotlight shines on the tall spikes.
If you love art galleries, the city has quite a few, especially modern art. We visited the Void gallery as well as the Shirt Factory and the Centre for Contemporary Art. Photos, paintings, films, public art, and conceptual art by both well-known and up-and-coming artists can be viewed throughout the city. The Shirt Factory was the one that moved me the most. It was an art project which was inspired by the shirt factories of the city. One of the prominent pieces was an industrial sewing line. Some had headphones in order to listen to the words of a worker, the sounds of the factory alive behind the voice. The women spoke of the life of the workers, the monotonous days, the caring people, the hardships. You sat in front of a sewing machine on a wooden stool, a tangled cloud of colorful thread looming above you, and listened, your mind moving to the factory, the machines coming alive, the past coming alive. It was beautiful in the most melancholy way.
For more information on this project, please visit this link.