A sculptor has been appointed to create a landmark piece of public art in Tinsley inspired by the area’s rich energy history including the former cooling towers.

Alex Chinneck, famous for designing large-scale sculptures including a two-story house made of wax bricks that melted over 30 days and an inverted electricity pylon that balanced on its absolute tip, will design the £450,000 Tinsley Art project – the largest art commission ever in Sheffield.

The artist’s previous projects have attracted over one million visitors and global media attention.

Funded by energy company, E.ON, the Tinsley Art Project aims to create work that is integral to the regeneration of the area that was once at the heart of Sheffield’s heavy industry.

A design is set to be unveiled early next year and Alex has been meeting local businesses and school children as part of his research. The project is set to be completed by Summer 2018.

Alex said: “I am honoured to be given this opportunity and look forward to developing a unique response to this interesting and important location. We are committed to delivering a project for Tinsley that positively contributes to the region’s future while resonating with its industrial past.”

Funded by energy company, E.ON, the project aims to create an artwork that is integral to the regeneration of the area

A design is set to be unveiled early next year and Alex is visiting local schools, community groups and businesses as part of a six-month exercise to develop ideas for the project. The artwork is set to be completed by Summer 2018.

Alex added: “My studio recognises and welcomes our responsibility to create an ambitious and accessible public artwork for Sheffield and we look forward to connecting with local businesses, communities and cultures to better understand what that might be.”

From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes
From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes

This Thursday (9 June) at 6.30pm the artist will be hosting a free public talk in the Diamond building, part of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

Entitled ‘Melting, bending and breaking the rules’, the event explores the relationship between art and engineering and forms part of Sheffield’s Year of Making 2016 programme.

The artist comments: “Tinsley’s industrial past inspires me while the city’s industrial present excites me. The artwork is to be conceived and constructed in Sheffield and we encourage manufacturers and makers from all industries to get in touch.”

A Project Board, made up of representatives of the local community, industry and the arts, selected Alex and his team from more than 70 applicants.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, said: “This is an important step towards realising our ambition to create an artwork that has meaning to the local community and resonance across the city and the wider region.

“The Tinsley Art Project is the largest public art commission ever conceived for Sheffield.

“Great art has the power to transform Tinsley’s future. It is a driving force for regeneration and we share the excitement of the community for what will be achieved here.”

Luke Ellis, site manager at E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows Biomass Plant, said: “We wanted to fund a landmark public art project to honour the industrial and power generation heritage of the Blackburn Meadows site and also look forward to the future of the city.

“Alex has a great record of producing iconic and thought-provoking sculpture and I hope the Tinsley project will be something that unites the local community and provides a landmark of which they can be proud.”

The scheme is closely linked to the wider regeneration of the Lower Don Valley. A new Bus Rapid Transport link road to relieve congestion at junction 34 of the M1 motorway is set to be completed this summer while a major flood defence scheme is also underway.

Sheila Sutherland, a Tinsley resident and a member of the board that is overseeing the project, said: “It is fantastic news that the Tinsley Art Project has reached this landmark, and I am look forward to working with Alex and his team as they develop the project further.

“This area was at the heart of Sheffield’s heavy industrial past. Now with the many connections by foot, bike, road, tram and rail and the richness of the biodiversity and recreational value of the river and canal, it has a new potential.”

Michelle Dickson, Director North, Arts Council England, said: “We believe the project needs to be rooted in, and begin in, the local place and local people.

“It is critical that the art project involves local schools and community groups, business and industry. However, the project also needs to engage the wider city community.

“Although site and budget are obvious constraints, those behind the project see lots of exciting possibilities, and have no fixed approach. It will be very exciting to see what is created here.”

For further information visit the website at www.sheffield.gov.uk/tinsleyartproject