Reality of landmark sculpture near Sheffield edges closer

Artist's impression of the Man of Steel
Artist's impression of the Man of Steel

A sculptor’s dream of building a 30-metre high landmark figure overlooking the M1 near Meadowhall is close to becoming a reality - with a public appeal, design tests and charity plans all bearing fruit.

Steve Mehdi, the leader of the Man of Steel project, is now aiming to begin a trial build of the huge statue from May onwards, and said recent progress has been ‘very exciting’.

Giving the public the opportunity to have their name, or a loved one’s, engraved on a huge heart inside the statue has met with a ‘fantastic response’, he added.

“People from all over the UK have been having their name, or parents, or grandparents, included,” said Steve.

“People have had the names of small babies who’ve died of heart defects added - one woman’s son died in an accident, and she drives over Tinsley viaduct every day so wanted to remember him when she passes. Other people have had their dads put on because they worked in the steelworks and they see him as their ‘man of steel’.”

He added: “You could physically get inside the man and see the heart. We’d encourage people to pay and do that.”

The Man of Steel is now a registered charity, further burnishing the scheme’s standing in the community.

“All the money we receive through the project will be spent on community projects,” Steve said.

Meanwhile the question of how to build the man has been resolved.

The original plan was to cast the entire statue, but this proved extremely costly.

“We’d always considered casting to be the best way of doing it. We’d have to cast each section and then bolt it together. We’ve made a number of enquiries about doing this, and the result is the cost of casting is so high that it wouldn’t sit within the budget.”

Steve returned to his original plan of fabricating the man from individual panels. The stainless panels will be cut by Outokumpu and then shaped and assembled by local firms.

A card model has been created which has backed up this method.

“It’s become a very workable solution. We’ve done a test build on the left leg to prove the method works. All the clients involved will put in final costs at the end of the month. Then the idea is that we’ll move forward with finalising the funding and start doing a trial build from May onwards.”

Although the statue will sit on the Kimberworth side of the motorway, Steve still hopes for a ‘change of heart’ from Sheffield.

“It would seem odd if Sheffield were not involved. We’ve been unable to draw them into the project. But what I would hope is that when we start building it there will be a change of heart.”