Future Flower

Project: Future Flower: Wind-powered kinetic light sculpture
Location: Widnes Waterfront EDZ
Cost: £125,000 + VAT
Artist / Architect: Tonkin Liu
Client: Halton Borough Council
Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan
Fabrication: Mike Smith Studio
Site Programme: 12 months
Atoll Service: Public Art Curator and Consultant for Beam on behalf of Halton BC
Project Status: Completed 2010
Awards: RIBA Award finalist; Sustain Award finalist

Ian Banks acting on behalf of Beam as curator and public art consultant for Halton Borough Council, created in 2007 the Art in Public Places public art strategy for Halton waterfront and a commissioning strategy for Widnes Waterfront EDZ, a final delivery part of which included the artist call, solicitation and commissioning of London-based architects and artists Tonkin Liu for their elegantly beautiful kinetic sculture called Future Flower. The giant galvanised steel flower is 14m tall and 4.5m in diameter. The public artwork was visualised as a precursor to the (then) proposed Mersey Gateway suspension bridge, since completed (formally opened in June 2018). The head of Furture Flower is constructed from a combination of triangles and pentagons to form an icoso-dodecahedron. Folded and perforated galvanised sheets form the petals, and whose overlapping perspective creates a series of optical illusions via gentle moiré patterns as you move around it. The leaves are actually small wind turbines which power LED lights, with their intensity varying with wind speed. An earlier linked temporary arts residency for the Arts in Public Places strategy by both artist filmmaker Jordan Baseman and artist collective Tea are featured separately here.

Below is an extract from the artists description of their project taken from their website:

“Beyond the chemical factories running along the Mersey Estuary in Widnes, the Future Flower acts as a beacon, drawing people to the waterfront to enjoy its natural beauty and expansive sky. From afar, the lifted flower appears and disappears in the mist, marking the horizon. Upon approach, moire patterns created by the layered petals continually shift and catch the sunlight. On windy evenings, 120 perforated galvanised petals gently flutter and glow, lit by 60 low-voltage LED lights. With different wind speeds, the lights reach different intensities, resulting in an ever-changing and dynamic flower. Inspired by the convergence of nature and industry, the flower embraces the future of renewable energy and signals the optimism for the future of Widnes”.

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Categories: Public Art

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