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Richard Wilson sculpture – Slipstream – to be installed in Heathrow Airport's new Terminal 2

Date uploaded: May 28, 2012

Richard Wilson sculpture – Slipstream – to be installed in Heathrow Airport's new Terminal 2

Plans for a large sculpture designed by Richard Wilson, which will dominate Heathrow Airport's new £2.5bn Terminal 2, have been unveiled. Entitled Slipstream, the work aims to "transpose the thrill of an air show".

Slipstream will fill the length of Terminal 2’s Covered Court, twisting across the atrium’s columns and physically integrating with the architecture. It is reputed to be the longest permanent sculpture in Europe – weighing 77 tonnes (77,000kg) and being more than 70m (230ft) in length. Terminal 2 is due to open in 2014 and the aluminium sculpture will be positioned between two walkways within the terminal, 20m (65ft) above the ground.

The project has been curated by Futurecity, who took on the commission on behalf of Heathrow Airport. Futurecity ran an international competition to select an artist for the project. Five artists were shortlisted and Slipstream was selected by the judging panel with the assistance of independent assessments from well‐known art professionals.

The sculpture combine precision engineering with the "sense of velocity and movement of a stunt plane". Structural engineers Price & Myers and specialist fabricators Commercial Systems International (CSI) are responsible for making the sculpture. The sculpture's design uses cutting‐edge computer programming technology, usually employed by the aerospace industry, to translate the volume of an aircraft's movement through space.

Wilson intends Slipstream to be "a very elegant sculpture, with a streamlined, undulating surface that reflects the light in all sorts of ways. The riveted aluminium surface will highlight the contours of the piece." The sculpture is intended to represent the "velocity of a stunt plane". To date, Wilson has represented Great Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo and Venice biennials.

John Holland‐Kaye, Heathrow's commercial director, said Slipstream would be: "an iconic piece of art that will bring to life the glamour and excitement of air travel, at the heart of a glamorous and exciting new Heathrow."

Click here to read Heathrow's Press Release