BANGOR bade farewell to Project 24 last weekend, with the seafront art pods set to be scrapped to make way for the long-awaited Queen’s Parade revamp.
The colourful pods and their landscaped surroundings were built 10 years ago, put in place to brighten up an area that had been voted Northern Ireland’s biggest eyesore.
Project 24 was only supposed to be in place for two years, described as a stopgap until the authorities got the heavily delayed overhaul of Queen’s Parade up and running.
Indeed, when the pods were opened in 2013 it was stated that the ’24’ in the facility’s name referred to the number of months it was going to be in place.
It’s only now, a decade later, that diggers are getting ready to move in for the £50m Queen’s Parade revamp, and the Project 24 site needs to be cleared.
Over the past 10 years the facility has hosted a wide variety of local creatives in disciplines as varied as print, paint, photography, textiles and jewellery, who used the pods as publicly-visible studio space.
It has also been the venue for summer fun days, Christmas-lights switch-ons, pop-up markets, and arts and film festivals.
Attracting tens of thousands of visitors over the last decade, the colourful pods became as familiar a part of Bangor’s seaside as the McKee Clock or Pickie fun park.
But last Saturday drew Project 24 to a close with one final day of music, family entertainment and a market.
Reflecting on the success of the facility over the past decade, mayor Karen Douglas said: “I would thank everyone who has contributed to Project 24 – local residents, visitors, the businesses who have supported and showcased the project, the artists who have come and gone, the entertainers who have performed, delivered workshops and made us laugh at every event, and especially the funders who have enabled us to keep it going.
“Some of these artists are still with us today while others have moved on to many and various new opportunities in the borough and beyond.”
The pods can boast many success stories, the mayor added, with artists using them as a springboard to open studios, win awards, and participate in prestigious exhibitions within the UK and abroad.
“I’m pleased to have this opportunity to wish every artist the very best for the future and to thank them once again for their very valued contribution,” she said.
One of Project 24’s most successful initiatives of recent years, the monthly Market Fresh event, will relocate to the British Legion hall on Hamilton Road.