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.
by Naomi Wright
It is the beginning of term and we stand about discussing our theme for our classes ahead. I suggest art and energy, it interests me for all sorts of reasons. I say I am helping with similar themed workshops with some college students outdoors as part of Regensw’s art and energy programme. I wonder whether it will interest the class. We think about the wide range of meanings for energy. Energy is everything, I say, remembering a recent workshop. In a physical sense, binding the molecules of our being, energy fixed from the sun, in the movement of a river, the heat from a fire, in our food, in the every-day. We have our own energy, in the spirit of the land, in leylines, in happiness, in despair.
So the term at Crediton arts centre has taken this as a theme…. A couple of us are working with an old luccombe oak that has had to be cut down in the local park. We think of the power within, the height and weight of it, the history in it, the energy held beneath in the ground. The dying energy, used by fungus, the last of the leaves to be photosynthisising.
Others in the class discuss their drawings through the eye of an energy lens. Lines are energetic, directioned, growing. The still life is far from still as vegetation takes on a new meaning, pots spin, and all the senses are enlivened.
We’re all curious in how this will progress… Pat especially, as she has ideas for some new installations.
Naomi Wright is an artist who collaboratively researches the benefits of being outdoors in the elements. In sunshine, wind, or rain she maps and constructs places, things and conversations that make the most of our ecological interplay.
Joana Vasconcelos and Vhils, two of Portugal’s most internationally visible artists, took on a pair of 100m-high Senvion MM wind turbines
Article by JUSTIN JAECKLE in Wallpaper
Two weeks after Portugal made global news for running solely off renewables for a remarkable 107 hours, the country unveils a ‘tribute to renewable energy’ – vying for the status of tallest contemporary art project in the world.
In a gesture of national pride, two of the country’s most internationally visible artists, Joana Vasconcelos and Vhils, were commissioned to take on a pair of 100m-high wind turbines. In the midst of the Douro Sul wind farm in the mountainous Moimenta da Beira region now stand two contemporary totem poles, with wild wolves and a handful of local villagers the artworks’ primary audience.
Hatched as an optimistic flight of fancy barely a year ago, Âncora Wind’s privately-funded project sees the two artists adapt their signature motifs to the challenge, and canvas, of technological infrastructure.
In a rare transposition of his practice from an urban to rural context, street artist Vhils – renowned for carving city walls into monumental portraits of anonymous figures – wraps his turbine in a graphic extrapolation of nature’s textures and a surveying human eye.
Vasconcelos’ Gone With the Wind offers a celebratory mélange of folk-inspired iconography, whose central heart faces the small nearby community. ‘It’s so different from all the scales you are used to,’ explains Vasconcelos, previously the subject of a 2012 exhibition in the rather different context of Versailles. ‘I went there last week and thought, “What is this?!” But it’s so energising when you do something that you’re not expecting to see happen.’
As Portugal plots its path towards a sustainable future, the one-off WindArt project offers a cultural point of punctuation; a decoration, and declaration, of ecological and economic ambition.
“Kinetic sculpture resides at the intersection of artistic inspiration and mechanical complexity. The making of one of my pieces relies on creative expression, metal fabrication, and a slow design process in equal parts.
It aims to alter one’s experience of time and space when witnessed. It also needs to weather winds of 90 mph and still move in a one mile per hour breeze and do so for hundreds of years.”
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Anthony Howe:
Anthony Howe (born 1954, Salt Lake City, Utah) is an American kinetic sculptor who creates wind-driven sculptures resembling pulsing, alien creatures and vortices. He makes use of computer-aided design, shaping the metal components with a plasma cutter, and completing his work by use of traditional metalworking techniques.
“Over the past 17 years I have made a body of suspended and freestanding kinetic sculpture, much of it designed to respond to the exterior natural environment of wind and light. I attempt, with an economy of means, to construct objects whose visual references range from lo-tech sci-fi paraphernalia to microbiological or astronomical models. Utilizing primarily stainless steel armatures that are driven either by hammered curvilinear shapes or flat fiberglass covered discs, I hope the pieces assume a spare, linear elegance when conditions are still, mutating to raucous animation when the wind picks up. Multiple axis finely balanced forms, both symmetrical and asymmetrical, conspire to create a visually satisfying three-dimensional harmony. Interior pieces include suspended gear motor and air driven wire armatures stretched with fiberglass, similar wall mounted pieces, as well as glass assemblages.”— Anthony Howe
He attended The Taft School between 1969 and 1973, and for the next 6 years was enrolled at Cornell University and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In 1979 he built a house on a remote mountaintop in New Hampshire. Here he painted pastoral landscapes for five years, and displayed his work at ‘Gallery on the Green’ in Lexington, Massachusetts. His paintings may be found in the collections of Teradyne, Harvard University, theWilliam Small collection and other public and private collections. In 1985 Howe moved to New York and turned from painting to kinetic sculpting. Four years later his first work was hung from old elevator cables stretched between buildings. In 1993 he joined the Kim Foster Gallery in New York, and the following year moved to Orcas Island in Washington, where he once again built a house and opened his own gallery.
He claims that there is some guesswork in predicting the effects of strong wind, and thus over-engineers his work. One of his methods of testing the sculptures is by fixing them to top of his van and then driving down the local airstrip.
Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund Founding Symposium
23-24 July 2016 (10:00 – 17:00) Glasgow
Calling energy experts, artists, activists and others! Pitch-in your skills and help us build the Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund (RRAAF), an ambitious new grant scheme for art-activism funded by renewable energy.
In the wake of continued cuts to public funding for the arts and as an ethical alternative to private / corporate sponsorship, RRAAF’s aim is to use renewable energy as an alternative funding source for socially- and politically-engaged art-activist projects.
The Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund Founding Symposium will be a hands-on workshop event. Participants with relevant expertise / interest will take an active role in discussing, defining and collectively agreeing on the new organisation’s founding aims and values, along with a long-term strategy for making it happen.
Please email to get involved: info@RRAAFund.org
The four supporting columns of Belgium’s highest wind turbines were transformed into meters, at an epic scale, monitoring the ecological impact of Kortrijk’s annual all night arts festival. The consumption of energy and water, and the production of noise and waste were indicated by two rings of projected light moving up and down the turbines. The columns of the turbines became an adjunct to the whole event, the festival feeding Monometer as if a living organism, with the illuminated rings being its visible façade, for the surrounding region to see. As night fell, the wind turbines disappeared leaving only the rings of light high in space.
Commissioned by kunstencentrum BUDA for Kortrijk Congé the final event for Lille 3000