Richard Wilson’s Slipstream at Heathrow Terminal 2

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Heathrow Terminal 2 – The Queen’s Terminal – isn’t to reopen officially until 4 June when a United Airlines flight from Chicago is scheduled to land at the new building in the early morning. Most striking of its features is Slipstream, a 77 tonne, 78 metre twisted aluminium sculpture by British artist Richard Wilson suspended in the air 18 metres above ground in the entrance court of the terminal.

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With an estimated 20 million passengers a year expected to pass by Wilson’s colossal work of art, it’s reckoned that Slipstream will become the most viewed public sculpture in Britain. I was at the unveiling of the sculpture earlier this week and – if other folks’ impressions are inline with mine – the sculpture is also set to be one of the travelling world’s most appreciated sights as well.

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Speaking to journalists at the unveiling about the sculpture which is his largest to date, Wilson explained that “suspended mass is always a wow factor.”

Other key players in the transformation of Terminal 2 who spoke at the event included Luis Vidal, Concept and Lead Architect; John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Development Director; Mark Schwab, Star Alliance CEO; Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England; and Mark Davy, Curator of public arts agency Futurecity. At least twice in the speeches comparisons to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall were made with regard to the terminal’s entrance court, as both spaces are of similar size. In the words of Sir Bazalgette, “Eat your heart out Turbine Hall, that’s what I say!”

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Terminal 2 is part of Heathrow’s on-going refurb and is a £2.5 billion development by luis vidal + architects which has taken five years to complete. When it reopens, the terminal will be the home of 23 Star Alliance airlines along with Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Little Red and Germanwings carriers. Touring the terminal revealed a space with lots more natural light than might be expected in airport, even in areas such as security and passport control. The feel was much like Heathrow’s Terminal 5 (which is a very good thing indeed) and a hell of a lot better (higher ceilings, more logical flow) than the other terminals at this nearly 70 year old, always-running-at-capacity airport. After the completion of Terminal 2, extensive renovations are planned for Terminals 1 and 3.

For up-t0-date info about Heathrow, go to heathrowairport.com.

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More photos: flickr.com/photos/tikichris/sets/72157644297527821

About tikichris

London-Based Writer/Photographer
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