Blade lowered into position in Hull
The Blade being lowered into position in Queen Victoria Square in Hull.

By Amit Roy

Nayan Kulkarni is being hailed as “the new Anish Kapoor” after his dramatic artwork – a 75 metre (250ft) wind turbine blade – was installed in the East Yorkshire city of Hull.

It has taken a major feat of engineering to manoeuvre the 28-tonne Blade, as the installation is called, diagonally across Queen Victoria Square in the centre of Hull, which the government has decreed the “UK’s City of Culture 2017”.

More than 50 items of street furniture, including traffic lights and lamp posts, have had to be removed to facilitate its journey into the city centre.

The Blade is positioned a metre from the ground at one end rising to 5.5 metres at the other, so “that a double-decker bus can pass underneath it”.

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

Blade artist Nayan Kulkarni
Nayan Kulkarni, the artist behind Blade. (Photo credit: Thom Arran)

Talking about the influences on his life, Kulkarni said: “I am a classic child of the diaspora – my father, Deepak Kulkarni was an architect from Bombay who worked all over the world. My mother is from the Wirral. I was born in Norwich in 1969.”

The Blade commission arose “from a conversation I had with curators involved in the Hull City of Culture”, he explained.

The Blade recalls some of Anish Kapoor’s biggest installations, notably the 500ft Marsyas, which occupied the entire length of the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2002.

The city authorities described Kulkarni as “a multimedia artist, whose work is generated from specific concepts, processes or places through diverse media such as light, video, installation, sculpture and photography”.

Blade is a dramatic addition to Nayan Kulkarni’s ongoing engagement with ideas of place, time, technology and perception,” they added. “Kulkarni’s recent works include Hryre, a major lighting installation in Chester and The Three Graces, commissioned to Illuminate York 2015.”

The rotor blade has been manufactured in fibreglass locally by the German firm Siemens, which has made a £310 million investment in Hull’s economy.

“Blade is a dramatic, yet graceful addition to Hull’s city centre.”

Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier said: “Blade brings to life the engineering and manufacturing excellence of which we are so proud. We hope people enjoy it. When people see our blades close up they often comment on how beautifully crafted they are. This installation will enable many thousands of people to appreciate that beauty and scale in the very heart of the city.”

Blade was returned to Siemens on March 18. Martin Green, CEO and director Hull 2017, commented: “Nayan Kulkarni’s Blade is a dramatic, yet graceful addition to Hull’s city centre.

“Despite its size, what is striking about the sculpture is its elegance. 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.”

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