The Union Flag scarf has been removed from one of the West Street statues as DSD Minister Nelson McCausland came to town on Wednesday to “declare completed” the ‘apple’ works of art.
The grass in the mini-park - usually left on site after it is cut - was also taken away.
It was a day of genuine praise and appreciation, with Minister McCausland, Donegal sculptor Maurice Harron, Mayor Colin McCusker and an entourage of politicians and officials admiring the rather unique and pleasing-to-the-eye creations.
Mr McCausland said that the statues in Portadown and Lurgan (where the emphasis is on that town’s linen past) reflected the rich history and traditions of the North Armagh towns. As he admired the park setting of the apple trio, he said, “This really works. It provides an area of rest for townspeople and an excellent vista for passing traffic.”
Maurice Harron, from Letterkenny, was delighted that his four-metre-high masterpiece had been given such a public setting. “It was an excellent commission and the sculpture is in an area where it can be seen and appreciated,” he said.
Local politicians included Gladys McCullough, Gemma McKenna, Darryn Causby, Jonny Buckley and Sydney Anderson MLA.
A constructive criticism came from Mrs McCullough who suggested a bit of round-the-year floral colour to set off the stainless steel of the figures and the grass.
“Other than that, they deeply appreciated in the area,” she said. “The community loves them.”
One such passing member of the community was Victor Fleming, on his way into town. “Yes, they’re excellent. People have a place to sit and admire and relax,” he said. “It’s significant, though, that the grass has been cut and lifted for the visit of the Minister.”
And as for the Union Flag ‘scarf’, Mayor McCusker wasn’t commenting as he, too, eulogised “the excellent sculpture”. But the body of opinion suggested that the scarf would re-appear before long…
The DSD provided £177,862 of the total £322,012 cost of the Portadown-Lurgan statues; £69,150 came from Craigavon Borough Council; and £75,000 was granted by The Arts council for Northern Ireland.