Northern Ireland

Artist Rita Duffy 'nearly quit Londonderry culture year'

Rita Duffy
Image caption Rita Duffy expressed her frustration in a painting: 'Running away from Derry'

One of Northern Ireland's leading artists has said she nearly stopped working on Londonderry's UK City of Culture year because of bureaucracy.

Rita Duffy, who ran the Shirt Factory Project in the city, said she had "major problems" with some people from Derry City Council.

She added that for a time she had to fund the project herself.

At one stage, the artist directed her frustrations into a work called: "Running Away From Derry."

Speaking on the BBC One programme, The View, she added her voice to those who fear the problems between the city council and the Culture Company will threaten any hopes of a legacy flowing from the City of Culture year.

"It was really, really difficult to get this up and running, " she said.

"It wasn't the most welcoming place. I had major problems with individuals from Derry City Council. I couldn't get money to the project. In fact, at one stage I was leaving.

"I was employed by the Culture Company. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have been here. Graeme Farrow (the Culture Company's head of programming) heard my proposal and, credit to him, commissioned it.

"It was getting it actually to happen. I funded this project with my credit card, such was the level of bureaucracy between the Culture Company and Derry City Council.

Image caption Rita Duffy said it was really difficult to get the project up and running

"I mean, Derry had an amazing opportunity to put on this year of culture and by and large I think it's been really good, but I think there've been huge, huge gaps exposed that need to be sorted."

In response, Derry City Council said it worked with the Culture Company to ensure delivery of the Shirt Factory into a gallery. It is more than satisfied it successfully delivered what it set out to achieve.

A spokesperson said: "Council worked tirelessly in close partnership with the Culture Company to ensure delivery of this space within the short timeframe involved and the obvious difficulties that arise in transforming a designated factory into a gallery.

"Council is more than satisfied that it successfully delivered what it set out to achieve.

"The City Factory space has proven to be a huge success, showcasing a range of exhibitions including Rita Duffy's Shirt Factory, the major photographic exhibition Picturing Derry and a major exhibition of photographic and video works by 2012 Turner prize nominee Willie Doherty."

The Shirt Factory Project has now come to an end. Part pop-up museum, part contemporary art gallery, it also had a shop selling uniquely branded souvenirs with a Derry theme.

Rita Duffy said that in January she intends to return to the project that employed four people. She's currently working on a range of funding opportunities, both private and public. She also hopes to link the project to Belfast.