The Yorkshire Man of Steel will be a 30 metre stainless steel sculpture and visitor centre, destined for a former landfill site on the edge of Rotherham, South Yorkshire in 2015. The sculpture will celebrate the history of the region and the new technologies that have replaced many of the traditional industries.
The sculptor behind the project is Steve Mehdi and his journey from artist and gallerist to the brains behind a major new artwork owes its origins to a humble roll of brown adhesive tape!
Steve, and his partner Jane, ran a gallery in Sheffield for a number of years featuring their work, and that of other artists. In addition the gallery provided a picture framing service which used brown adhesive tape. Its strong tacky quality soon captured Steve’s imagination, and he began to explore its potential. Before long he discovered it made the perfect medium to sculpt in; like clay, but quicker to respond and cleaner!
“It was a great discovery for me,” says Steve. “Adhesive tape is malleable and gives you the freedom to be more creative. I could construct forms and alter them until I had achieved the feel and look I was searching for.”
Unbeknown to him, this technique would become the catalyst for one of his most ambitious projects to date. A small figure, which he constructed out of discarded pieces of tape, would form the basis of the future landmark sculpture project now known as The Yorkshire Man of Steel;
This relaxed looking figure represented the men and women Steve had worked with in his former work in the steel industry in Sheffield;
“I wanted to create something personal, which represented the men and women I’d spent years working with. I enjoyed some great times back then.
The work was hard but I met some great people, some of whom are still friends today.”
The adhesive tape sculptures were eventually sent to the Bronze Age Casting Foundry in London, where they were turned into a limited edition of bronzes using a traditional casting process known as ‘lost wax’ or ‘cire perdue’.
The return of the collection to the gallery in Sheffield coincided with the demise of the Tinsley Cooling Towers (in 2008), a much loved local landmark. Many people speculated what might replace them but no clear picture emerged. The Man of Steel quickly captured the attention of visitors to the gallery;
“I didn’t expect so much great feedback,” says Steve. “Almost everyone who saw it said it could be Yorkshire’s Angel of the North. After this I began to think about developing the sculpture further and when the Tinsley Towers were demolished in Sheffield the project began to gather momentum.”
Steve listened to the voice of public opinion and pulled together a team of experts from the region to explore creating a monumental version of the Man of Steel. Now, nearly five years later, the project is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Written by Content On Demand