Is this beauty - or a beast?

PUBLISHED: 14:15 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 11:50 04 May 2010

“Sluice”

"Sluice"

THE world of contemporary art has had its fair share of controversy and impassioned debate in recent years - and a new project at Ely s riverside is no exception. Sluice , pictured above, will stand next to the river close to Jubilee Gardens, and will sh

THE world of contemporary art has had its fair share of controversy and impassioned debate in recent years - and a new project at Ely's riverside is no exception.

"Sluice", pictured above, will stand next to the river close to Jubilee Gardens, and will show scenes of flowing water on a plasma screen that will be illuminated at night.

Designed by West Country artist Lulu Quinn, the 4m by 1.5m sculpture has been funded largely by Arts Council England and also represents the efforts of Commissions East, a regional body that advises on local art projects, and Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire, which has carried out a number of successful community projects based on the work.

The plasma screen set into the sculpture will show the water levels at Denver Sluice, and aims to reflect the "managed landscape" in which we live.

The £40,000 project, however, has already attracted criticism ahead of its planned October unveiling.

William Burton, of the Ely Perspective group and the Ely Traders' Association, said: "Who has asked the citizens of Ely if they want this?"

"My personal feeling is that it will be a focal point for vandalism and I am concerned that ratepayers will be burdened with the costs of ongoing maintenance of the sculpture."

Chairman of the Friends of Jubilee Gardens, Susan Long, said the group was not opposed to the sculpture in principle, adding that the piece seems "pleasant enough", but said the committee objects to its proposed location.

"I feel they've chosen the wrong situation for it," she said.

"Jubilee Gardens is a very natural location but the sculpture seems a very large, uncompromising, man-made sculpture; your eye should wander down to the river but it will be forced upwards by the sculpture."

Jane Wilson, Arts Development officer at Adec, said the organisation welcomes debate on the piece.

"It's a very exciting piece, and we are fortunate to have the involvement of an artist like Lulu Quinn," she said.

"The response we have had so far from our community projects has been very positive."

She said more than 250 people have been involved with the community work, and that the piece will engage with the landscape itself.

"Lulu spent a long time researching and filming the area; she is interested in the managed landscape of the Fens and the works she creates reflect its environment."

"My feeling is that people will like it."

Ms Wilson said a similar piece by the artist was commissioned in Gateshead city centre and there have been no reports of vandalism.

She added that the piece has had community input at every stage and that a steering committee, consisting of city councillors, members of the Ely Perspective Group, the district council, and all of the bodies involved has overseen the project from start to finish.

It is hoped the piece will be officially unveiled on October 29.

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