Heathrow today unveiled Slipstream, by renowned British artist Richard Wilson, which is set to become one of Britain’s most viewed public sculptures, seen by 20 million passengers a year.
In front of over 100 people including invited guests and media outlets from around the globe, the 77-tonne Richard Wilson RA masterpiece was unveiled today following a two year process.
Slipstream was commissioned by Heathrow to welcome passengers to the UK’s hub airport and has been curated by public arts agency Futurecity. Measuring 78 metres, the sculpture’s twisting aluminium form is inspired by the world of aviation and captures the imagined flight path of a small stunt plane.
For Wilson, the work is a response to the artistic challenge of capturing movement and a metaphor for travel; it aims to capture velocity, acceleration and deceleration in its twists and turns.
The work is supported by four structural columns and is suspended 18 metres above the ground as it carves through the entrance court of Terminal 2.
“After over two years of hard work I am delighted to see Slipstream finally unveiled in Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 : The Queen’s Terminal today. Slipstream is my largest sculpture to date and I have enjoyed the challenge of working on such a monumental scale and also working alongside such inventive engineers to realise this work. Slipstream is a metaphor for travel, it is a time-based work that responds to its location and I feel honoured that Slipstream will go on to be seen by millions of visitors travelling to and from the UK each year” – Richard Wilson RA
The revolutionary artwork takes pride of place within the new £2.5 billion Terminal 2: The Queen’s Building which, has been designed around the passenger experience and vision of architect Luis Vidal (of luis vidal + architects). Spanish architect Luis Vidal is internationally renowned for his ambitious airport designs and the objective for Terminal 2 was to create a space that would be a destination in itself.
The old Terminal 2, opened by The Queen in 1955, was demolished after 54 years of service. It was Heathrow’s first terminal, originally called the “Europa Building” and was designed to deal with 1.2 million passengers a year.
By the time it closed in 2009 it was handling 8 million passengers a year. Also announced today was the news that Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will officially open her new Terminal on the 23 June after being invited to by Heathrow.
Terminal 2 will be a new international gateway for the UK, a home to 23 Star Alliance airlines as well as Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Little Red and Germanwings carriers.
Made in Britain…
Slipstream will be the first and last impression of the United Kingdom for passengers travelling through Terminal 2 and this ambitious sculpture took over two years to create. To make it 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 where it formed part of the successful bid for Hull City of Culture 2017. It was then transported, piece by piece, to Heathrow in June 2013.
Find out more about Slipstreamhere.