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UEL visiting research professor Richard Wilson unveiled his stunning sculpture at Heathrow Airport’s new £2.2 billion Terminal 2 on Wednesday 23 April.
The 80 metre long ‘Slipstream’ sculpture, one of the longest in Europe, was unveiled outside the terminal in the covered court area and is expected to be viewed by 20 million passengers a year becoming one of Britain’s most viewed public works of art.
The 77 tonne Slipstream installation is inspired by the exhilarating potential of flight, combined with the physical aesthetics of aircraft. The ambitious artwork is inspired by the world of aviation, combining precision engineering and specialised UK craftsmanship.
For Wilson, who has an honorary doctorate of arts from UEL, the work is a response to the artistic challenges of capturing movement and a metaphor for travel; it aims to capture velocity, acceleration and deceleration in its twists and turns.
Richard Wilson said: “After over two years of hard work I am delighted to see Slipstream finally shown in Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 : The Queen’s Terminal.
“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.”
Wilson is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors. He is nationally and internationally celebrated for his interventions in architectural space which draw heavily for their inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction. Wilson, who was nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions and awarded the prestigious German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) residency in Berlin in 1992-3. His seminal installation 20:50 is a sea of reflective sump oil, which is permanently installed in the Saatchi Collection. He has represented Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo, Venice Biennials and Yokohama Triennial.
Speaking at the event UEL’s vice chancellor, John Joughin, said: “A soaring art work that captures the force and velocity of flight in its abstract form. Everyone at UEL is tremendously proud of Professor Richard Wilson’s achievement in completing Europe’s largest sculpture at Britain’s newest terminal.”
Mark Stephens, UEL’s chair of the board of governors, said: “Slipstream is the very essence of flight from its earliest years to the modern day. Richard Wilson’s studio is on the Thames near UEL, and the Red Bull Air races took place right over the studio and our university with the planes doing barrel rolls from Richard’s studio to the university’s Docklands campus. It is truly wonderful to see such inspired and high quality public sculpture commissioned.”
For more information on UEL’s School of Arts and Digital Industries please see www.uel.ac.uk/adi
The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with over 28,000 students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.
Image: Richard Wilson, John Joughin, and Mark Stephens stood beside the Slipstream installation