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“Even though the work is made of steel I wanted it to have a fragile materiality and yet describe the twisting form between the rings. The pull against the pole and the two rings tensions the form as it might on a bridge” (Anish Kapoor)

Temenos by Artists Anish Kapoor (b.1954) and Cecil Balmond (b.1943)

Temonos is a giant sculpture by internationally renowned and acclaimed sculptor Anish Kapoor, and one of the world’s leading structural engineers Cecil Balmond. It is situated on the bank of the river Tees, between the Transporter Bridge and the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough. As tall as Nelson’s column and as long as a football pitch (50 metres high by 110 metres long), it is one of the largest public sculptures ever made and has become a striking and familiar feature of the local skyline. It was unveiled in 2010.

The sculpture was specially commissioned as part of a regeneration initiative for the Tees Valley, to help communicate a sense of pride and ambition in the region. Engaging such world-famous artists sent out a strong, positive message about the value of the area and its people. This is also reflected in the sculpture’s name, Temenos – a Greek word for a special, sacred piece of ground. Anish Kapoor is known for his abstract – often giant – installations and sculptures. Balmond is best known for his innovative work creating buildings and structures which, at times, appear to defy gravity. Together, their work explores and plays with traditional shapes and scale.

Temenos is an excellent example of this. It consists of thousands of metres of wire mesh, suspended and gently twisting between two giant steel rings. The artistic vision came from Kapoor, who created the original conceptual model using a pair of tights stretched between two rings. Balmond made sure the sculpture would literally stand up and withstand the elements, while also conveying the grace and fragility of Kapoor’s concept and design.

While Temenos was commissioned as part of a future-facing initiative for the Tees Valley, the artists were careful to also reflect and celebrate the region’s extraordinary history. The materials and sheer scale and strength of the sculpture look to the past, reflecting Teesside’s heritage as an industrial powerhouse. The sculpture’s construction also reflects local heritage both in terms of heavy industry and precision engineering. Locally sourced materials were used and local people employed where possible.

The sculpture’s form, however, looks to the future. It changes depending on how it is viewed – whether from below, nearby, far away or by looking straight down the middle to the Transporter Bridge at the other end. Some have described it as a giant butterfly net’. To others, it reminds them of the net shapes in computer-generated 3D designs, which morph and change when viewed from different angles.

Find lots more photos of Temenos here

Many of Kapoor and Balmond’s works have become monumental landmarks around the world, such as Orbit (2012) in London’s Olympic Park here

Temenos took four months to install. Specialist ‘Spiderman’ worked at a height of 40 metres (12 stories) to create the mesh, connecting hundreds of stainless-steel cables using over 6,000 nuts and bolts. See the evolution and installation of Temenos here:

Our Tees Valley Museums Local Art and Artists: Activities is available to download here


Image courtesy of Art UK