A 27ft circular art installation hailed as a world first has just been launched as part of a multi million pound town centre regeneration scheme.
Designed by Gateshead based artist, Steve Newby, ‘Halo’ is a stunning gravity-defying loop and a central pivotal piece of public art in the £150m new Gateshead Trinity Square Tesco which is illuminated by colour-changing fibre-optic lights at night.
The ‘Halo’ rests on the ground, tilted on an angle of 66 degrees and becomes a landmark place to meet and stand or rest on the adjoining seating elements (also constructed by the artist using the same steel-blowing method) as the 8m ‘Halo’ soars majestically outward and overhead.
Weighing in at 800kg, the sculpture piece utilises the award winning artist’s own unique method of shaping stainless steel by inflating and blowing as if it were glass, creating curves in reflective surfaces which then appear kinetic and fluid. ‘Halo’ comprises approximately 330 individual inflated sections, linked together to form the unique body of the sculpture, considered to be the world’s biggest created from inflated stainless steel.
Inflated stainless steel panels were produced by hydro forming at high pressure. The panels start as flat plates and are cold formed into pillow shapes in one instantaneous inflation process without the use of moulds. Artist and sculptor, Steve Newby said:
“I am absolutely delighted to see my concept become a reality. It has been some years in planning, engineering and design. Technologically it’s moving the boundaries of this technique and its prominent gravity-defying character will, I hope, really add exhilaration to the overall development.”
Physical testing of the inflated stainless steel panels was carried out by Newcastle University to determine strength and stiffness values such that they can be utilised without additional supporting structure, performing a load bearing structural element, therefore allowing Halo’s unique light, aeriform appearance. This was important as any internal framework would be visible in the structure. Tensile and compression testing of 1.5mm and 2.0mm wall thickness inflated panels was carried out. The material usage was critical to both the design and the stability, with 304 Grade Stainless steel, in 1.5mm gauge utilised with an overall diameter of eight metres.
Halo is also finely in tune with the spirit of Gateshead – of invention, innovation and technical achievement – while linking strongly with nearby contemporary iconic architecture and artworks such as The Sage, Millennium Bridge, Angel of the North and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
The circular ring acts as a ‘symbol of regeneration’ and was picked from six possible proposals on the table.