Controversial ‘Art’ in Derry – Where’s my £20k?!

As I noted last night, I was in Doire/Derry yesterday and Friday seeing a few friends and enjoying myself in general. Derry is somewhere I have always enjoyed heading out in and think it is a pretty interesting place with a unique history, though I am always reminded of the late Sean Holywood, a teacher at the College in Newry, when talking with tongue firmly in cheeck about the SDLP and the ‘Derry Mafia’ that ran it. With that in mind, my friend who is a journalist in the city noted the ‘controversy’ surrounding a new piece commissioned by the City of Culture Committee that was made by Glasgow based visual artist David Shrigley. Here it is below:

 

Interesting, no? Well, no, not really. I showed this to Mammy FC and noted it was a commissioned piece, to which bewilderment greeted me and also a great insight, ‘it’s a sign or billboard, right?’. Indeed, that’s what it is. Now, the journalist friend of mine noted that this piece cost the City a stomping £10,000! TEN THOUSAND POUNDS! That’s nuts.

We talked about whether it was ‘art’ etc. or was it merely marketing? This conversation went on sometime longer until I met another one of my very good friends, a graphic designer and artist based in the City. We bring up Shrigley’s piece knowing it would be akin to lighting the blue touch paper and the cost of it. ‘I can’t believe the Committee dropped £20,000 on that piece of crap.’ Hold on a moment, I thought it was £10,000? No, guess again folks, the City of Culture  has dropped £20,000 on something that can only be described as a cynical piece of marketing from someone who is laughing all the way to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The piece itself is written using the ‘John Lennon’ font, and that’s about it. Further, a guard now stands beside the ‘piece’ 24 hours a day, incase someone were to take an axe to it or throw paint over it or to make an artistic contribution better than Shrigley by adding to it. It’s not like Derry is short of artists, is it? I mean, that’s part of the reason it won the City of Culture bid! So, you have to ask, why was this commissioned piece not thrown open to the large community of artists within the City to see what they might come up with? My friend the artist came up with what I think is a far better piece below, which is considerably better than Shrigley’s cynical work.

 

Well, what do you think? Could you do better than Shrigley? Is his piece interesting or is it cynical anti-art?

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