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The Empty PlinthHolywell Trust & the Nerve Centre (Northern Ireland)
This installation was based on an original idea by Mark Lusby and John Peto. Holywell Trust and the Nerve Centre promoted the idea with support from the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
The Empty Plinth was one of five installations commissioned as part of the Lumiere Derry~Londonderry 2013 BRILLIANT competition for anyone based in or originally from the area with a bright idea for an installation
The Empty Plinth was the first in a series of installations to be mounted on the empty plinth on Derry City Walls. The plinth is the base of a column that was erected in 1827 as a tribute to Rev. George Walker, Joint Governor during the Great Siege of 1688-89. It was originally 24m high, topped by a statue of Governor Walker, and was bombed twice by the IRA in 1973/4. The demolition of the pillar is probably viewed by the present-day Catholic population of Derry as a popular act, the removal of a perceived symbol of Unionist domination. However, within the Protestant minority of the population, the destruction of Walker’s Pillar and the continued paint-bomb attacks on it are probably seen as evidence of intolerance of a distinctive Protestant cultural identity within Derry.
The Empty Plinth created an untainted beam of white light, emerging skywards, symbolising a “beacon of hope” for the city and demonstrating the scale of the missing pillar.
The General Committee of the Apprentice Boys of Derry leased the plinth to the Holywell Trust, a community development group with a peace and reconciliation ethos, with the aim of making the plinth a shared community space whilst respecting fully its heritage. The ‘Brilliant’ installation was a statement of intent by the Holywell Trust and its partners that this part of the City Walls would be reopened to the public.
Holywell Trust was formed in the late summer of 1988. Its formation came from the perceived need for an organisation which would encourage risk taking and stimulate creativity in the work of community development and Community Development & Peace Building in the North West.
The Nerve Centre The Nerve Centre is Northern Ireland’s leading creative media arts centre. More than 120,000 people a year benefit from the Nerve Centre’s wide-ranging programme of arts events, cutting edge projects, creative learning centres, training opportunities, and state-of-the-art production facilities. A successful social economy enterprise, the Nerve Centre employs more than 40 staff at sites in Derry~Londonderry and Belfast.