Temple: last chance to visit before the big burn

Artist David Best at 'Temple' on Kelly's Field on the Corrody Road. Photo Lorcan Doherty Press Eye
Artist David Best at 'Temple' on Kelly's Field on the Corrody Road. Photo Lorcan Doherty Press Eye
  • Temple site closed on Saturday until 6pm
  • Burning Ceremony begins at 8pm and will last approximately one hour
  • Dress warmly. No alcohol allowed on site

Today is the last chance for people in Londonderry to visit the Temple at Top of the Hill in the Waterside.

Thousands of people have climbed up to the site at Corrody Road this week, filling the structure with messages, photographs and symbols of personal significance.

And it will all go up in smoke in a ceremonial burning ceremony on Saturday evening.

The site will be closed all day on Saturday to allow preparations for the burn to take place.

It will open again at 6pm with the torch lit for the burn at 8pm. Organisers Artichoke estimate the burn will take approximately one hour.

The Temple opened to the public last Saturday and has become a place of pilgrimage for people from right across the country.

David Best is an amazing artist and has worked all over the world. To have him come here and do this right on our doorstep in incredible.

Volunteer Eithne Kilfeller

It was built by hundreds of local volunteers under the guidance of internationally renowned artist David Best.

As the Temple is intended as a place of remembrance and letting go, the idea is that Saturday evening’s ceremonial burning will carry with it special significance to all those who took part.

Waterside woman Eithne Kilfeller is one of the people who helped to put the Temple together over the past week.

“I’m very keen on the ethos of letting go,” she said.

“I believe in expressing yourself artistically and getting involved in groups like this which are putting something special together with the idea that we can invest as much as we want and then let go of it ourselves.

“Temple is about intentions, bringing messages, thinking about someone they have lost or that is meaningful to them and about letting it go. It’s not about destroying or burning. It’s about forgiveness.”

Best the artist is renowned for his role in the Burning Man Festival in the States where he has put together similar temples to the one now adorning the Top Of the Hill.

And some have questioned the ethos of spending so much money on such a project as this only to quite literally see it go up in flames.

But, as Eithne points out, investment in the arts is not always a straightforward business.

“If you are going to invest in the arts then you need to do something that will bring people in from outside the area,” she said.

“If you get people to come you are going to attract inward investment. I’ve been all over the world and I’ve seen how it happens. This is not coming out of people’s rates and I feel it is an investment of people rather than of money.

“David Best is an amazing artist and has worked all over the world. To have him come here and do this right on our doorstep in incredible.”

Thousands of people will flock to the site over the next week - many visiting a part of their city they have never been to before. The views of Londonderry from there are quite spectacular with the Temple bringing its own unique addition, albeit a temporary one, to the city skyline.

“Bringing the Temple here to this site is allowing people to have ownership of the city, people who maybe have felt that they weren’t able to go to other areas,” added Eithne. “Really that’s what the Temple is about, that everyone can feel they are on an equal footing and that they have a part in all of it.”

“If you come at night when it is all lit up and look across to the city, you can see the Temple rising up into the sky and fitting it perfectly with the spires of the two cathedrals in the Cityside,” said Prehen woman Catherine Strathearn, who also volunteers on the project.

“This installation is affecting people in a way that the permanent art in Derry has never touched before.

“Young kids, teenagers maybe people who are slightly disengaged from society are really involved in this.

“They are bringing perhaps painful memories from their own past but they are also opening up and sharing.

“Children as young and eleven or ten are really opening up and sharing with people like us. I think this is a wonderful, wonderful thing”

Temple was originally to have been included as part of the Lumiere festival in the City of Culture year in 2013, but proved too expensive as a project.

Instead Artichoke decided to return to the city to stage Temple in it own right.

Local school groups have been involved in designing part of the structure and a number of other groups such as the Nerve Centre’s Fablab, the Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership and the Peace Walls Programme have been involved.