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Richard Wilson’s new sculpture Slipstream to be unveiled at Heathrow airport’s new Terminal 2

January 27, 2014 Airport No Comments Email Email

On 23 April 2014, six weeks before Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 2 opens to the public, Slipstream, a major new sculpture, will be unveiled inside the new Terminal building.

Created by internationally renowned British artist Richard Wilson RA and curated by Mark Davy founder of public arts agency Futurecity, Slipstream is an ambitious artwork inspired by the world of aviation and combines precision engineering and specialised UK craftsmanship. The result is a flowing, twisting aluminium form; an imagined flight path of a Zivko Edge 540 stunt plane. Slipstream will be one of the longest permanent sculptures in Europe, measuring over 70 metres long and weighing 77 tonnes.

Slipstream will carve through the length of Terminal 2’s Covered Court and, like so many of Richard Wilson’s large-scale creations, responds to and is integrated within the building’s architecture; supported by four structural columns and suspended between two passenger walkways. The sculpture will be a striking focal point for the airport’s new building, situated by both departures and arrivals to greet passengers. It will be seen by 20 million visitors travelling through the terminal per year.

In 2010 Heathrow appointed the cultural agency Futurecity to develop an international art competition that could attract five renowned artists to provide ambitious proposals for an artwork that would explore the volume and architecture of the new Terminal 2. As a result, British artist Richard Wilson RA was selected to realise his exciting proposal for Slipstream.

Richard Wilson, one of Britain’s leading sculptors, is celebrated for his artistic interventions in architectural space and has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally. His best known works are the installation ‘20:50’, a sea of reflective sump oil, which is permanently installed in the Saatchi Collection; and his commissioned contribution to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture 2008, ‘Turning the Place Over’, a vast ovoid section of a disused building façade which rotated to reveal the inside of its structure. He has represented Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo, Venice Biennials and Yokohama Triennial and has been nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions.

Slipstream’s design uses cutting-edge computer programming technology, usually employed by the aerospace industry, to accurately translate the volume of an aircraft’s movement through space. To make Slipstream a reality, Wilson enlisted structural engineers Price & Myers and specialist Hull-based fabricators Commercial Systems International (CSI). The sculpture was manufactured in Hull in 23 giant sections and transported, piece by piece, from Hull to Heathrow in June 2013.

Richard Wilson says “Slipstream is rooted in its location. This work is a metaphor for travel, it is a time-based work. It is art that moves in time and space coming from the past to the current, delivering different experiences at either end. Sensations of velocity, acceleration and deceleration follow us at every undulation of the form.”

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s Development Director, explained that “Heathrow is one of the few places where art, architecture and engineering come together in one space and we hope our passengers will enjoy Slipstream when they travel through Heathrow”

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