Messenger, the UK’s largest bronze sculpture arrives into Plymouth by sea
On Monday 18th March, the UK’s largest bronze sculpture named “Messenger” arrived into Plymouth by sea, before her installation at her new home in front of Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Commissioned by TRP as a monument to the power of creativity and the arts, the sculpture created by British artist Joseph Hillier catches a young female actor mid-performance, embodying the energy and creativity at the heart of the Theatre Royal and cultural life in Plymouth.
The reason Messenger arrived by sea, was because at 30ft wide by 23ft tall, the 9.5 ton sculpture was too large to fit under bridges leading to the city. Two weeks ago Messenger arrived in Plymouth from the foundry in Wales in three pieces so she could fit under motorway bridges. A team from the foundry, who have spent the last two years constructing the sculpture, used Plymouth’s Royal Naval Base to assemble the sculpture so that she could then be brought by sea to within half a mile of the Theatre from where a final road journey was possible.
Her journey from Plymouth Royal Naval base to the Theatre Royal Plymouth today saw Messenger travelling across Plymouth Sound at dawn and arriving into Millbay Docks by barge. Travelling upright across the sea fully exposed to the elements she was bolted onto the barge to ensure her stability. She was then craned onto a low-loader and driven at processional pace through Plymouth city centre before arriving at the Royal Parade where she was lifted into place in front of the theatre.
It will now take engineers three days to complete Messenger’s foundations before the sculpture is unveiled to the public on Friday 22nd March in the evening. She is the largest bronze sculpture ever to be cast in the UK with a volume of 25.6 cubic metres, having taken over 2 years to cast the 200 individual panels that make up the sculpture.
Adrian Vinken OBE Chief Executive of Theatre Royal Plymouth: “We believe that a sculpture of this quality and scale will have a positive transformational impact not just on our Theatre but also on the whole of Plymouth’s city centre. A major piece of public art can transform the world’s perception of what a place is like; it makes a statement about a city – it’s ambitious, it’s contemporary and it’s forward looking. It will create a unique landmark for the city and strengthen its cultural offering. In time it may become one of those iconic figures that destinations become forever associated with. It will cause controversy. The Angel of the North faced a tremendous amount of opposition when it was proposed but is now an integral part of life in the North East. We hope our new sculpture will become just that here in Plymouth.”
Joseph Hillier sculptor: “The title, “Messenger” refers to the pivotal role the performer takes to breathe life into the words of a writer and the intent of a director. The sculpture celebrates the potential of creativity as a dynamic catalyst for change. This work offers a young powerful woman, a potent force, about to transform the world by her actions. The actor carries the voice of her playwright or director – she carries a message. It’s a metaphor for what great theatre does.”
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