Heathrow press releases

03 July, 2013

Twice world champion stunt pilot Paul Bonhomme recreates the tumble of Richard Wilson's Slipstream

One year before Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 opens to the public, the first piece of Richard Wilson’s monumental new sculpture for the terminal has left the studio in Hull and will arrive on site in July 2013. Created by internationally renowned British artist Richard Wilson, Slipstream is an ambitious artwork inspired by the world of aviation and combines precision engineering and specialised UK craftsmanship. The result is a flowing, twisting aluminium form; an imagined flight path of a Zivko Edge 540 stunt plane. To celebrate the occasion, twice world champion stunt pilot Paul Bonhomme today recreated the tumble of Richard Wilson’s Slipstream in an awe-inspiring air show at Audley End Airfield in Saffron Walden.

Once installed at Heathrow, Slipstream will be one of the longest permanent sculptures in Europe, over 70 meters long and weighing 77 tonnes. The sculpture will carve through the open space of Terminal 2’s central courtyard as a stunt plane might, leaving behind a solid trail in its spiralling trajectory. It was the artist’s intention “to transpose the thrill of the air-show to the architectural environment of the international air terminal.”

Richard Wilson, one of Britain’s leading sculptors, is celebrated for his artistic interventions in architectural space and has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally. His best known works are the installation ‘20:50’, a sea of reflective sump oil, which is permanently installed in the Saatchi Collection; and his commissioned contribution to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture 2008, ‘Turning the Place Over’, a vast ovoid section of a disused building façade which rotates to reveal the inside of its structure. He has represented Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo, Venice Biennials and Yokohama Triennial and has been nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions.

In 2010 Heathrow appointed the cultural agency Futurecity to develop an international art competition that could attract five renowned artists to provide ambitious proposals for an artwork that would explore the volume and architecture of the new Terminal 2. As a result, British artist Richard Wilson RA was selected to realise his exciting proposal for Slipstream.

Slipstream will fill the length of Terminal 2’s covered court and, like so many of Richard Wilson’s large-scale creations, will be physically integrated with the surrounding architecture. The sculpture will be a striking focal point for the airport’s new building, suspended up to 20 meters above the ground, twisting amongst the atrium’s columns and between two passenger walkways. It will be seen by 20 million visitors per year.

Slipstream’s design uses cutting-edge computer programming technology, usually employed by the aerospace industry, to accurately translate the volume of an aircraft’s movement through space. To make Slipstream a reality, Wilson enlisted structural engineers Price & Myers and specialist Hull-based fabricators Commercial Systems International (CSI). The sculpture will be transported, piece by piece, from Hull to Heathrow from June 2013, one year before Terminal 2 will be unveiled to the public.

Richard Wilson says “Slipstream is rooted in its location. This work is a metaphor for travel, it is a time-based work. Art that moves in time and space coming from the past to the current; different experiences at either end. Sensations of velocity, acceleration and deceleration follow us at every undulation of the form.”

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s Development Director, described Slipstream as “An iconic piece of art that will bring to life the glamour and excitement of air travel, at the heart of an exciting new terminal at Heathrow.”

About Terminal 2

As part of a £11bn airport development programme, Heathrow is replacing the old Terminal 2 (which stood for more than half a century before closing in 2009). The brand new building will reward flyers with an impressive new space, designed around the individual needs of the 21st century passenger. When it opens 4th June 2014 the new Terminal 2 will serve roughly 20m passengers a year. It will be home to STAR Alliance and Aer Lingus, as well as Virgin Atlantic’s domestic routes.

Luis Vidal and Architects are the lead architects for Terminal 2, collaborating with Foster and Partners during the project phase and Pascall and Watson during fit out. The two main terminal buildings are being constructed by HETCo (a joint venture between Ferrovial Agroman and Laing O’Rourke) and Balfour Beatty. The adjoining multi-storey car park is being constructed by Laing O’Rourke. The building will cost £2.5 billion, which includes the main Terminal 2 building, a new 522-metre satellite pier (T2B), a new 1,340 capacity car park and an energy centre and cooling station.

Heathrow have designed the new Terminal 2 with an aim to be as environmentally responsible as possible, with sustainability at the core of the programme. 95 % of the buildings demolished to make way for the new terminal were recycled. In addition, the new Terminal 2 will be 40% more carbon-efficient than the old building and extremely energy efficient; with biomass (wood chip) boilers, photovoltaic panels and a main cooling plant carefully chosen for its low global warming potential. Overall, Heathrow’s target is to recycle or compost 70% of airport waste by 2020.

About Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors. He is internationally celebrated for his interventions in architectural space, which draw inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction and are characterized by concerns with size and structural daring.

Wilson has exhibited widely, nationally and internationally, for nearly 40 years and has made major museum exhibitions and public works in countries as diverse as Japan, China, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Iraq and numerous countries throughout Europe. Wilson has also represented Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo, Venice Biennials and Yokohama Triennial, was nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions and was awarded the prestigious DAAD residency in Berlin 1992/3. He was one of a select number of artists invited to create a major public work for The Millennium Dome and the only British artist invited to participate in Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000, Japan.

Wilson’s projects have generated universal critical acclaim. Wilson’s seminal installation ‘20:50’, a sea of reflective sump oil, which is permanently installed in the Saatchi Collection, was described as “one of the masterpieces of the modern age” by the art critic Andrew Graham Dixon in the BBC television series ‘The History of British Art’. Wilson’s commissioned contribution to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture 2008, titled ‘Turning the Place Over’, comprised a vast ovoid section of a disused building façade that rotated three dimensionally on a spindle. This work won the Ace engineering excellence award 2008. Other works include ‘Square the Block’, 2010 for the LSE Building in London, that both mimics and subverts the existing façade, and ‘18 holes’ for the Folkestone Triennial. His most recent work was the Rooftop Commission at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad Festival titled, ‘Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea’.

About Future City

Futurecity is the largest public arts agency in the UK, with a series of large scale projects that include:

- The 50 metre ‘White Horse’ by Mark Wallinger

- The 70 metre ‘Slipstream’ project by Richard Wilson RA for the new Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport

- The public art strategy and implementation of art interventions for the 8 central London Crossrail stations

- The Kings Health Partners’ Cancer Centre at London Bridge.

Futurecity works closely with a wide range of clients in the public and private sector to manage the procurement, production and installation of cultural projects from inception to completion. Futurecity believe culture can add authenticity and commercial value to new developments through cultural branding, public art strategies, and targeted research on placemaking policy, cultural economics and creative industries.

Futurecity deliver site-specific projects that are influenced by, or contribute to place. They develop community engagement projects and targeted public consultation by taking on cultural audits, finding local champions and cultural organisations and building strong client relationships with local stakeholders, community groups and local authorities. Futurecity have a mentoring programme for young and emerging artists, and we often work with art schools and universities to develop new talent and skills.

For further press information, interviews or images of Richard Wilson’s Slipstream please contact:

Liz Thornhill, Sutton PR on +44(0)20 7183 3577 or email liz@suttonpr.com

Heathrow Airport media centre on +44 (0)20 8745 7224 or email media_centre@heathrow.com


Heathrow Airport media centre
Heathrow Airport
Email: media_centre@heathrow.com
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8745 7224