Gardai unamused by art group's parachute drop


Eight large parachutes which were found in Waterford and caused a lot of imaginative speculation, including that they had floated in from Russia, were revealed yesterday to have been a stunt by an art group.

The "parachute structures" caused bafflement when they were found in different parts of Waterford city on Monday. Each comprised an orange and white parachute and a four-legged metal landing frame carrying a transparent cylinder resembling a large test-tube.

The cylinders contained a substance like sand or silt as well as a clear liquid like water.

Speculation ran rife. Markings on the parachutes suggested that they might have originated in Russia and had floated over from there. Other versions considered that they were part of some form of environmental experiment.

Yesterday the truth emerged. It was revealed that an artist, Mr Paul Greg, instructor and dean of the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, was responsible for placing the structures throughout Waterford city after winning a public art commission in conjunction with Waterford's Garter Lane Arts Centre. So the stunt was actually funded by the taxpayer.

An amused director of the Burren College of Art, Ms Mary Hawkes-Greene, said last night: "We didn't know anything about it. Paul's aim was to excite speculation and he has produced the desired effect. He is very interested in the notion of the community's relationship towards art, and this project is very much part of that."

Garter Lane Arts Centre claimed it devised the project to "provide healthy excitement and prompt people into enjoyable speculation". The entire stunt was funded by the Theatre Group.

The gardai, however, are not sharing the joke. Yesterday they described the stunt as "an elaborate and costly hoax". At first, as the parachutes were thought to have floated to the ground, gardai checked meteorological departments in Britain and Ireland.

Then the Army was called in to examine the contents of the test tubes i made extensive enquiries. inquiries. The and it was found to be no more than earth and water. "We are taking this very seriously as it has wasted a lot of Garda and Army time," a Garda spokesman said. He said that gardai were considering what action should be taken.