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British Land and E.ON funded sculpture for planning approval in Sheffield

Image: 'Looping boat' courtesy of Sheffield City Council

An impressive floating sculpture is being proposed for installation on the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, near Tinsley Marina.

Plans have been submitted to install a full-sized canal boat, sculpted into a loop-the-loop from rolled steel. Centred on the 200-year-old waterway, the public artwork references the history of Tinsley using signwriting and will be painted in traditional, canal boat colours.

If approved, the contemporary artwork will serve as a free, year-round, outdoor visitor attraction for the area, and aims to bring a new generation of visitors to contribute to the ongoing story of the canal.

The project is being co-funded by British Land and by energy company E.ON, who committed to creating a public artwork as part of its redevelopment of the Blackburn Meadows site, now the home of a biomass-fueled energy park that generates electricity and heating for Sheffield.

A board of local stakeholders, led by Sheffield City Council, was convened to commission the piece.

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of the Economic Development and Skills Committee at Sheffield City Council, said:

“The Board have been working to deliver a public artwork for Tinsley and for Sheffield, that celebrates the history of the area and the promotes the discovery and enjoyment of the water way. The new proposals, submitted by the project board, are bold, ambitious and do just that.”

Chris Lovatt, Chief Operating Officer – UK Energy Infrastructure Solutions at E.ON, added:

“We committed to fund this public artwork as part of our redevelopment of the Blackburn Meadows site into the renewable energy plant serving the city today.

“Our hope was the artwork chosen by the city would reflect the industrial past of Sheffield. This project does just that and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition.”

A planning application for the artwork has been submitted by artist Alex Chinneck on behalf of the Tinsley Art Project Board, which includes Sheffield City Council, E.ON, British Land, Tinsley Forum, Canal and Rivers Trust and Yorkshire Water.

Alex has been working in the area for seven years and has created multiple artworks in Tinsley during that time, including a sculpture of a car hanging upside down, creating the illusion that section of road was peeling up from beneath it. The artwork, which was installed in 2017, was a visited by more than 5,000 people over five days.

In 2019, Alex returned to Tinsley with a new sculpture – a knotted post box, which was temporarily installed on a residential street outside Tinsley Meadows Primary Academy. 

Alex said:

“I’m as committed as ever to create a magical artwork for Tinsley and the region. We tied a post box in a knot outside Tinsley Meadows Primary School, we peeled a road upside down next to Tinsley Viaduct and now we are loop-the-looping a canal boat beside Tinsley Marina.”

Graham Whitfield, Tinsley Forum, said:

“Having been involved in the Tinsley Art Project since the initial idea we are really pleased that the project is now coming to fruition.

“Artist Alex Chinneck has created the right design, for the right place, and we are looking forward to seeing Alex’s vision and our ideas becoming a reality.

“It will be fantastic for the area to have an unusual and playful addition, which is something that will inspire young and old to have an interest in art, health and the local waterways, whilst transforming an area of Sheffield where there is a lack of public art.”

Sean McGinley, Regional Director (Yorkshire and Northeast) at Canal & River Trust – the waterways charity that looks after Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, said:

“Sheffield is a city shaped by its waterways. Over 200 years ago the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and the River Don were commercial thoroughfares, connecting the city to the wider world, powering the foundries and workshops. Today, they are transformed.

“By water we can relax, enjoy many leisure activities and be inspired.

“Our charity is delighted to see Sheffield embracing its waterway heritage through this major new art commission and complements the street art trail along the canal. We hope it will encourage even more people to visit and discover their local canal and the benefits of being by water.”


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