Page last updated at 07:03 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Choppy waters for river art work

An impression of Turbulence in Cardigan (picture: Cardigan Big Art Project)
An artist impression of how the floating, illuminated artwork may look in the river

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition objecting to an avant-garde piece of art which is earmarked to float on a river.

The work called Turbulence is part of Channel 4's Big Art Project, but it has created waves in Cardigan, Ceredigion.

A set of 127 buoys containing lights and speakers is planned, but objectors claim it is a "silly idea".

A spokesman for the 400,000 project said the petition reflected the "open nature of this ambitious project".

Cardigan is one of seven areas in the UK chosen to host artwork as part of Channel 4's Big Art Project, which aims to involve people in major public works of art.

It's a silly idea with no cultural or historical links with Cardigan or Wales whatsoever
Melfydd George

Cardigan Big Art Project said a private charitable organisation called The Art Fund was funding much of the scheme, but money was also coming from the Welsh Assembly Government.

A 2,250-signature petition against the work was handed to Wales' Conservative leader Nick Bourne on Wednesday at the Senedd.

Former Cardigan mayor Melfydd George was one of those who travelled down to Cardiff Bay.

He said: "There are many concerns about this project. My main objection is that it is a total waste of money.

An impression of Turbulence in Cardigan (picture: Cardigan Big Art Project)
Cardigan's Big Art Project is expected to cost 400,000

"We're told we're not paying for it, but we're told Turbulence only has a lifespan of six years - couldn't the money have been used more sensibly on a project which could have lasted 100 years?

"It's a silly idea with no cultural or historical links with Cardigan or Wales whatsoever. For instance, the artist designing it is Mexican, not that we have anything against Mexicans, and we're told the buoys are being made in Germany."

Mr George said there were also concerns about a possible negative effect on the River Teifi's eco-system.

'Ambitious project '

Cardigan Big Art Project said Turbulence had a lifespan of 10 years, and there was currently no evidence it would have a negative effect on the Teifi.

It added that the historical and cultural links to the project were the "oral tradition of the Eisteddfodau".

Spokesman Wiard Sterk added: "The final cost of the project will obviously be determined by the nature of the final proposed artwork.

"We are currently awaiting the completion of the final designs and a conclusive environmental report, when the total costs to be calculated. We expect this not to exceed the target budget and may well be reduced.

"We are aware of the petition and it reflects the open nature of this ambitious project from the very outset. Public consultation is at the core of our agenda.

"The town council has also voted in support of the project at a recent meeting."

Bafta award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has been commissioned to produce the sculpture at a cost of around 400,000.

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