New Larne public art sparks lively debate

The installation of new public artwork in Larne celebrating early tourism pioneers has sparked a lively online debate.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 6:08 pm

Renowned sculptor Kevin Killen was commissioned to create the ‘Jaunting Car’ - after consultation with local people - to recognise figures such as local hotelier Henry McNeill, who brought visitors to the Antrim coast from Scotland in the 1800s.

Funding of £80,000 for the project was provided by the Department for Communities and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

And the cost was among the hot topics as the public responded to the council announcement that the piece was now in place. Click here

The 'Jaunting Car' sculpture in Larne was created by renowned artist Kevin Killen following consultation with local people.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, according to Andy King, from Larne Renovation Generation (LRG), a team of volunteers involved in art and other improvement initiatives around the town. He noted out of about 400 comments “very few” were negative.
“I think it looks good, brilliant idea and another piece to the collection in Larne,” was one resident’s response.

A second person said: “How beautiful. I look forward to taking a closer look later in the year when things improve and visits to family resume.”

Meanwhile, another social media user agreed it was a “lovely piece” but queried if it would have been better “spending the money on the town centre and encouraging people to stay local”.

It was pointed out in response the money was earmarked for an art project.

And Councillor Angela Smyth joined the discussion, stating council’s contribution was £7,000 with the rest from the department.

LRG emphasised the local input to the project. Stressing the money could easily have gone to another town had Larne not won the bid, the group added: “The pupils of Larne High School where involved in its creation. It’s a community statue for the people of Larne.”

The choice of location for the life-size jaunting car at the junction of Pound Street and The Roddens was also questioned by some people who thought it should be more central, such as Broadway.

LRG explained that Broadway is an entertainment space and there needs to be access for larger vehicles etc.

And another resident commented the installation “is across from the Town hall and museum and not far from the library”.

With seating and bins expected to be added to the space in due course, there will be opportunity for closer reflection on the Jaunting Car. However, in the meantime council has appealed: “Now that the sculpture has been installed, the community is reminded of the ongoing Coronavirus regulations for the protection of public health, and encouraged to adhere to all guidelines for travel.”

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