In a major commission for Hull 2017, artist Nayan Kulkarni has transformed the historic heart of Hull city centre with Blade, a massive, monumental artwork that will change the way people see and experience Queen Victoria Square.
Kulkarni has taken a 75–metre rotor blade – that you would normally see at the top of a wind turbine – to create this artwork, spectacularly interrupting this newly renovated public space.
Made by hand at the Siemens factory in Hull, these blades are the largest single-cast handmade objects in the world.
B75 rotor blades, made by hand at the Siemens factory in Hull, are the largest single-cast handmade objects in the world. It is one of the first blades to come out of the factory, made by hand by the men and women of Hull.
Multimedia artist Kulkarni, best known for his work with light, said: “Blade seeks to transform Hull’s streetscape through the imposition of a single wind turbine blade. This readymade artwork, 75 metres long, will divide the square forming a temporary impediment to a free flow. Carefully positioned, it will force us to drift around its arabesque edges, our sight taking the place of the breeze. The twisting wing, although inert and at rest in the street, speaks of movement, but not of freedom.”
Blade bisects the square, from Savile Street to Carr Lane, rising to a height of more than 5.5 metres at its tip, allowing double-decker buses to pass underneath. It offers a striking contrast to the familiar facades of the neo-classical Ferens Art Gallery, the Italianate Maritime Museum and Hull City Hall.
Blade is being installed with the support of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Major Partners Siemens and Green Port Hull and has been made possible by a range of other organisations. It is first in a series of major art commissions that will be installed in public spaces around Hull as part of Look Up, a year-long programme for Hull 2017 that will see different artists creating temporary artworks designed to make people look at and experience the city in new ways.
Despite its size, what is striking about the sculpture is its elegance.
Martin Green, CEO and director, Hull 2017, said: “Nayan Kulkarni’s Blade is a dramatic, yet graceful addition to Hull’s city centre. Despite its size, what is striking about the sculpture is its elegance. Putting this example of state– of– the–art technology against the historic charms of Queen Victoria Square makes you look at this fine public space differently. It’s a structure we would normally expect out at sea and, in a way, it might remind you of a giant sea creature, which seems appropriate with Hull’s maritime history. It’s a magnificent start to our Look Up programme, which will see artists creating site-specific work throughout 2017 for locations around the city.”
Blade will remain in Queen Victoria Square until 18 March. More installations will be unveiled at locations around the city throughout Hull’s City of Culture year as part of the Look Up programme.
Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier said: “We’re hugely excited to have worked with Nayan Kulkarni and the City of Culture team on this dramatic, unique installation. This collaboration reflects our desire to make a positive impact as a Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Major Partner. Blade brings to life the engineering and manufacturing excellence of which we are so proud, and makes it tangible for the people of Hull and visitors to the city.
“It feels perfect that Blade – one of hundreds of 75– metre blades we will manufacture in Hull every year – will be a prominent feature during the City of Culture Made In Hull season. We hope people enjoy it. When people see our blades close up, they often comment on how beautifully crafted they are. This installation will enable many thousands of people to appreciate that beauty and scale, in the very heart of the city.”
Following Blade, further details about Look Up, the programme of major public art commissions for Hull 2017, will be announced over the next weeks and months. The next installation, a large-scale work by artist Michael Pinsky, is set to appear at the start of February. Other artists include Bob and Roberta Smith; Tania Kovats; Claire Barber; Chris Dobrowolski; Claire Morgan; and Sarah Daniels. Look Up has been developed in partnership with a number of organisations and companies including The Deep, GF Smith, Hull School of Art and Design and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Hull City Council has also commissioned new work in the public realm, including work by two of the Look Up artists Michael Pinsky and Nayan Kulkarni, who is creating The Golden Hour, a series of light installations across the city centre that will appear during 2017.
|A message from Land Art Generator Initiative.
There are still a great many of our fellow citizens who do not recognize the seriousness of the climate change threat, despite the increasingly dire and catastrophic warnings from the scientific community.
The Land Art Generator Initiative is calling positive attention to the great energy transition by making its benefits visible to communities around the world. We are confident that this uplifting approach is more effective than stories of doom and gloom at reaching those who are still not yet convinced of the science, or who may be tempted to protest new solar and wind installations because they fear they are not visually pleasing.
At LAGI, we are celebrating the beauty of our renewable future by bringing creative minds together to design culturally relevant energy infrastructures that help neighborhoods and people directly. The next few years bring us the opportunity to expand our efforts in cities and in communities as a counterpoint to the likely absence of climate-oriented policies at the federal level.
The world that we would like to see emerge in the coming decades is one in which the mass proliferation of clean energy systems will also lead to some of the 21st century’s greatest works of civic art and social projects.
Our approach to sustainable energy should be suitable to and respectful of places and people. That is what LAGI is expert in, and it informs our unique approach to every project.
We write about this in our latest book, Powering Places, which is now available at your local bookseller. Click on this link for online purchasing options.
In addition to thoughtful essay contributions1, the book details over 60 of the most interesting entries to this year’s LAGI design competition.
Example spread from Powering Places
Teams around the world were challenged to create a piece of civic art that also acts as sustainable and renewable energy and drinking water infrastructure for the city of Santa Monica, California. The result is an astounding sampling of innovative and artistic solutions that employ the latest wave, tidal, wind, solar, and other technologies.
1 Thank you to the Powering Places essay contributors:
Craig Watson (Director, California Arts Council)
|An Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘Exploring energy and community in the past, present and future’ aims to help to revive public and political conversations about energy by looking in a fresh way at its past, present and future. Artists led by Tipping Point and Visiting arts are working with communities and university researchers.
Story 1: Policy Story: Demanding Times gathers a novel mix of communities of interest around energy policy, and generates new accounts of energy policy and politics past, present and future. Story 2: Industry Story: Future Works is rooted in the English midlands, and seeks to unearth fresh accounts of the long relationship between energy, industrial making and landscape, and explores where it might go next. Story 3: Everyday Story: Life Cycles engages with the role that energy resources have played in shaping communities and everyday life in south Wales.
Heron Road, Bristol 2015
|This mural was created for Bristol City Council and the Warm Up Bristol Campaign show home over at 56 Heron Road, Easton, BS5.|
|The mural itself is a stunning piece of work showing off the house itself and lots of examples of the old types of energy and the new sustainable energies that are now available|
Making Art as if the world matters, Lucy Neal
|Published in 2015, this groundbreaking handbook is a resource for artists, community activists and anyone wishing to reach beyond the facts and figures of science and technology to harness their creativity to make change in the world. This timely book explores the pivotal role artists play in re-thinking the future; re-inventing and re-imagining our world at a time of systemic change and uncertainty. Lucy Neal talks here.|
|“The 5Cube is Ireland’s first renewable energy design feature and is a physical representation of how much oil Ireland is consuming every five minutes. The aim of the 5Cube is to get citizens thinking about our dependency on fossil fuels and to consider renewable sources of energy that are cleaner, and ultimately cheaper, alternatives. The 5 Cube was selected as the winning design following the Imagine Energy design competition in 2013 for a smart energy feature in the city centre as part of its involvement in the EU-funded Ace project.
‘There are a lot of initiatives to attract people’s attention to marketing or causes involving the multi-media, multi-platform initiatives, barrages of information, bright lights, scrolling screens etc, to a point where I think we develop a kind of fatigue and blindness to the sheer volume of information and statistics.
The 5Cube was designed by Declan Scullion of de Siún Scullion Architects. De Siún Scullion Architects are a new Dublin-based practice established in 2014.
|I suppose the objective here was create a kind of marker or monolith that was going to provoke people to look closer, take the time to ask, what is it, and then when the answer was revealed it perhaps has more of a chance to stay with you. You have to work a little bit to get the answer, so you tend to remember the answer a little better. All the more so if the thing you saw was memorable or beautiful in some way.” Declan Scullion.|