world : Derry artist's Polestar gets stamp of approval

world : Derry artist's Polestar gets stamp of approval
world : Derry artist's Polestar gets stamp of approval

Friday 14 June 2024 08:30 AM

Nafeza 2 world - A Londonderry artist has spoken of his delight after one of his public art works was chosen to be immortalised on a stamp in the Republic of Ireland.

The Polestar, installed in Letterkenny in 2006, initially generated some controversy but has gone one to become one of County Donegal's most recognisable landmarks.

Its creator, Locky Morris, told BBC Radio Foyle's North West Today programme that seeing the stamp for the first time was a "real buzz" for him and his family.

There are more than 1,500 public artworks throughout Ireland, with An Post, the Irish postal service, featuring four sculptures for its new Public Art stamp series.

The sculpture, located on the Port Bridge Roundabout just outside Letterkenny, is constructed from 104 timber poles and stands at a height of 12m.

Its shape alludes to the outline of a boat, as well as having a train track theme, to commemorate the fact that both forms of transportation played a major part in the town's development in the past.

Mr Morris said that 18 years on, he still has special memories of when the Polestar was first installed "especially around the very last pieces going in".

"I was absolutely panicking at the time as right up to the last minute I wasn't sure if the final section was going to slot in.

"The installation happened in the early hours of a Saturday morning. It was 3am, we were stopping traffic, there was lots of people around as they were coming out of the discos.

"There was a lot of excitement."

At the time, the Polestar cost about €100,000 (£84,000) sparking a debate about the value of public art.

"It was really controversial when it first went up," Mr Morris said.

"There were radio phone-ins, people saying the money should be spent on other things.

"Public art is difficult, but I do think art is supposed to divide opinion

"You do have to develop a thick skin. But the Polestar went on to become very popular, so I've been very lucky.

"People still stop me about it and you do get a warm feeling from that.

"As the years have gone, I became really appreciative that I was given the opportunity to build it.

"I still get a buzz when I drive past it."

As for the stamp, Mr Morris said it's been a lovely experience for him and his family to see it selected along with three other pieces of public art from Dublin, County Kildare and County Cork.

However, he hasn't made the trip to the post office just yet to buy one for himself.

"An Post sent me the collection, but my sister went to the post office in Buncrana and she bought some," he said.

"My family and friends are just delighted. I am just sorry my mum isn't here to see it.

"It's just a buzz for everyone."

A spokesperson for An Post said: "The ‘Per Cent for Art’ scheme has been an important initiative for over 45 years, bringing art into the public sphere.

"This series of stamps proudly introduces an even wider public to major Irish artworks by important artists.”

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