Hull welcomes 250ft art work turbine blade for UK City of Culture 2017


A massive art work has been erected in the centre of Hull as it was announced that more than 300,000 people visited the first main event of the city's tenure as UK City of Culture 2017.

Blade - a 250ft-long (75m) wind turbine blade - has been being erected across Queen Victoria Square, right in the heart of the city, between the Ferens Art Gallery, City Hall and the Maritime Museum.

The piece has been commissioned from multimedia artist Nayan Kulkarni and created by workers at the Siemens turbine blade factory in Hull.

Organisers say the B75 rotor blades are the world's largest handmade fibreglass components to be cast as a single object and the one now dominating Hull city centre was one of the first to be made by workers at the German tech giant's new plant on Alexandra Dock.

The blade was brought into the city centre in the early hours of Sunday morning on huge vehicles travelling the two-mile journey at walking pace.

Hundreds of people watched throughout the day as the 28-tonne piece was gradually lowered on to two supports at what Mr Kulkarni described as a "jaunty angle."

Blade runs across the whole length of the square, rising to 16ft (5m) at the art gallery where double-decker buses will pass underneath.

Nayan Kulkarni said: "This ready-made artwork, 75 metres long, will divide the square, forming a temporary impediment to a free flow.

"Carefully positioned, it will force us to drift around its arabesque edges, our sight taking the place of the breeze. The twisting wing, although inert and at rest in the street, speaks of movement, but not of freedom."

The work drives home the links between cultural events planned for Hull 2017 and the economic transformation of the city.

Organisers and civic leaders have consistently used the £300 million investment by Siemens in its state-of-the-art offshore wind manufacturing plant as a symbol for the city's economic resurgence.

Thousands of people turned out on New Year's Day to celebrate the start of Hull's year-long UK City of Culture 2017 events.

More than 25,000 people packed the city's marina and lined the bank of the Humber for a spectacular fireworks display and crowds flocked to the city centre to visit Made In Hull - a city-wide, week-long, free installation by artists, telling the story of Hull and its people over the last 70 years.

Hull 2017 announced that Made In Hull, which was curated by the award-winning documentary maker Sean McAllister, attracted 342,000 visitors over the last week.

Mr McAllister said: "We never expected the response that there has been to Made In Hull.

"As someone from the city, I wanted to bring to life some of the stories that make Hull such an interesting and extraordinary place. The reaction has been incredible."

Director of Hull 2017 Martin Green said: "It's been a phenomenal first week for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and we've been blown away by the reaction to Made In Hull.

Talking about Blade, Mr Green said: "It's a structure we would normally expect out at sea and in a way it might remind you of a giant sea creature, which seems appropriate with Hull's maritime history.

"It's a magnificent start to our Look Up programme, which will see artists creating site specific work throughout 2017 for locations around the city."

Hull is the second city to be given UK City of Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.

The city was selected in 2013 from a shortlist which included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.

Blade will remain in Queen Victoria Square until March 18.

Siemens Hull factory director Jason Speedy said: "It's gone really, really well. Logistically, it's been a bit of a challenge, obviously, taking a 75m long blade through the streets of the old town of Hull."

Mr Speedy said the firm has spent 12 months planning Sunday's operation with the creative team.

He said: "We always said coming into the city that we wanted to make an impact not only to the jobs market and the economy but to actually give something back to the city.

"So this is our donation to the City of Culture programme. We want to be a good neighbour as well as a good employer in the city."

Siemens and the firm ABP have invested £310 million in the new blade factory and port. Both are now operational with the first blades leaving the port last week.

Mr Speedy said 800 people were now employed at the facility and this figure is planned to rise to 1,000.