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Young newshounds report on Wirral 'Column's progress for BBC
AN intrepid team of young newshounds is following the progress of the troubled Wirral Column art installation as part of a BBC schools' news project.
The group, from St Mary's Catholic College in Wallasey, has been working for weeks on their feature for the corporation’s annual School Report.
'Column' was to be the first in a series of 12 commissioned art works, known as the "Cultural Olympiad", celebrating the games in the regions of Britain.
Rising to a height of three miles from Birkenhead's Wirral Waters site in East Float Dock, it was expected to be visible for up to 100km.
It was supposed to be launched on New Year’s Eve 2011, but has been dogged by delays.
The students' four-minute film charts the difficulties of getting the project off the ground. If successful, it stands a chance of broadcast nationally.
The team of teenagers has also been asked to produce an audio report for BBC Radio Merseyside.
They took their cameras onto the Mersey Ferry Royal Iris in sub-zero temperatures and a biting gale. They filmed both sides of the river, where artist Anthony McCall’s ‘Column’ will be most visible.
Then they filmed at the site of Column's generator on the East Float, Wallasey, interviewing staff at the nearby Astrophysics Research Institute, part of John Moores University.
The film crew, aged between 13 and 17, also went to the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead where an exhibition of amateur photographs of Column is being planned.
English teacher Lyndsey Price, who is leading the extra-curricular project in St Mary’s, said: "This is the first time we have attempted anything like this, and we know we have chosen quite an ambitious theme, so it has been a baptism of fire.
"It has been quite daunting at times, but the students have risen to all the challenges in a very focused and professional way. We are very proud of them."
In November Arts Council England announced it would not be investing any more money in the Wirral project but would "continue to support the production team to make it happen".
The structure which produces the Column was towed to its East Float site in Birkenhead in August and visible testing was due to begin at the end of the month, in time for the start of the Paralympics Games. But nothing happened.
Permission was granted for the development on the proviso that the structure is removed by no later than July 31.
Permission was also dependant on there being no "detrimental effect through disturbance to birds" using the dock system."
The £500,000 piece of artwork will be responsive to natural light and weather and will bend according to winds.
IThe students hope it will be in action in time for News Day on Thursday, March 21, and are poised to tailor their report accordingly for the deadline.
Their completed film will be published by 2pm that day on www.stmaryswallasey.com