Designs for Heathrow sculpture unveiled

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Designs for “the longest permanent sculpture in Europe” at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 were unveiled on Monday.

Richard Wilson’s 76-metre “Slipsteam” will thread its way around four structural columns in the revamped terminal, which reopens in 2014. The twisting, gyrating, complex form is based on the flight path of a small stunt plane in mid-air.

The result appears like a series of intertwining ribbons draped through the space and fluttering in the air. “It captures a moment of travel,” said Mr Wilson. “It’s a metaphor for a journey through time and space.”

The structure will be built of a long series of armatures and clad in aluminium so that the void left behind by the aircraft is made solid.

Mr Wilson, who received the commission through a competition organised by Future City, the art consultants, is best known for two arresting works.

“20:50” is a disorientating room filled with jet black sump oil that blurs the lines between reflection and space, floor and ceiling, while “Turning the Place Over” is a spectacular piece created for Liverpool in which a round section of a building’s façade is made to rotate through three dimensions in a dismantling of structural and mechanical logic.

Whether there might be something a little unsettling about the image of an aircraft tumbling through the sky at Heathrow is not yet known, along with whether the sculpture will be competing for length with the spiralling queues at immigration.

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