Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Artist's Son Says Dad Is Responsible; Dreamspace Damages Hearing Is Told Artwork Had Been Closed Down in Past

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Artist's Son Says Dad Is Responsible; Dreamspace Damages Hearing Is Told Artwork Had Been Closed Down in Past

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanne Butcher

FATAL artwork Dreamspace had already moved in wind and been closed down by the weather before it blew away, killing two mothers, the High Court has heard.

Claire Furmedge, 38, from Chester-le-Street, and Elizabeth Collings, 68, from Seaham, were killed when the inflatable artwork flipped into the air in Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, in July 2006.

Their families and several other injured victims have already won compensation, but a High Court judge is now deciding who is to blame.

Tragedy hit when the inflatable installation - designed to let visitors experience colour and light in a dreamlike way - was lifted off the ground by wind.

The structure failed because it had inadequate anchors, which meant a "fairly unexceptional" breeze was enough to lift it from the ground.

Yesterday, Giles Agis, son of Dreamspace artist Maurice Agis, and executive director of Liverpool-based event organisers, Brouhaha International Ltd (BIL), took to the witness box as he fought accusations of Chester-le-Street District Council that BIL was to blame.

He revealed that issues with the installation - half the size of a football pitch - had already been encountered during a previous exhibition at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

As well as numerous closures due to bad weather, it had to be shut down for a day because it moved around two metres in wind, Mr Agis told the court.

But Mr Agis claimed it was solely down to the artist - his father - to inform Chester-le-Street District Council ahead of the next stage of Dreamspace's 2006 tour. "I thought that the responsibility for communicating the issues to do with the structure would be with Maurice," he said in response to questions from council barrister, Lord Faulks QC. "It was his work, he was author of the work, he was responsible for the work. …

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