Sheffield reacts to chimney sculptures that will replace Tinsley Towers

A drawing showing the sculpture trail in its entirety
A drawing showing the sculpture trail in its entirety

Sheffield has given its verdict on a plan to create a mile-long trail of 100ft chimney sculptures as a replacement for the Tinsley Towers.

On Tuesday night The Star revealed the design for Onwards and Upwards, by artist Alex Chinneck, which has been billed as one of the most ambitious public artworks ever conceived.

The £450,000 trail will be installed along a stretch of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, starting close to the M1 viaduct near Meadowhall, and is expected to be in place by summer 2019.

It has four elements - a cracked chimney broken into 250 pieces, illuminated from within; a 'hovering' chimney with an upper section that appears to float; two leaning chimneys standing 45 metres apart that bridge the canal; and a curving chimney tied into a knot.

Sheffield Council, which is leading the project, hopes the artwork will attract visitors from across the UK, offering an 'immersive experience' that can be enjoyed on foot, by bike or boat.

The landmark Tinsley cooling towers, once part of the old Blackburn Meadows power station, stood beside the motorway bridge but were demolished in 2008.

Writing on The Star's Facebook page, Luan Roberts reflected on the fact that thousands of people went to see an older work by Chinneck - an upside-down car attached to a stretch of 'peeling' road - that was brought to Tinsley last week.

"Five thousand people went to look at the upturned car. Loads more will walk the canal trails to check out the new sculptures - I will," she said.

Dave Hudson wrote: "I can't wait for this. It looks like a lot of people reckon us up North don't deserve any kind of artworks though. I've seen many others - Angel of the North, the Kelpies, Arria, Verity. I love them and reckon there should be more. Any civilisation is defined by its artworks."

There were some suggestions that the chimneys would be a 'waste of money' - despite funds for the sculptures coming from energy firm Eon, rather than the public purse. Others preferred a prospective design from 2007 - made for a competition run by RIBA - which imagined two latticed structures that closely resembled the Tinsley Towers.

But Andrew Hirst argued: "Striking and iconic art which will be seen by thousands of people a day is a waste of money? These monumental structures have the potential to be some of the most memorable things about Sheffield and Rotherham. They'll be seen by anyone on the M1, or anyone around Meadowhall and Tinsley. They will brighten up an otherwise rather drab part of the city and will get a lot of people talking."

And Julie Patterson said: "I think it looks amazing."

Alex is leading walking tours of the site on September 29, 30 and October 1. Visit https://tinsleyartwalk.eventbrite.com to book a place or see www.onwardsandupwards.info for further details.