Dream, installed in 2009, is a sculpture and a piece of public art by Jaume Plensa in Sutton, St Helens, Merseyside. Costing approximately £1.8m, it was funded through The Big Art Project in coordination with the Arts Council England, The Art Fund and Channel 4.
In 2008 St Helens took part in Channel 4's "The Big Art Project" along with several other sites. The project culminated in the unveiling of Dream, a 20 metre high sculpture located on the old Sutton Manor Colliery site.
St Helens retains strong cultural ties to the coal industry and has several monuments including the wrought iron gates of Sutton Manor Colliery, as well as the 1995 town centre installation by Thompson Dagnall known as "The Landings" (depicting individuals working a coal seam) and Arthur Fleischmann's Anderton Shearer monument (a piece of machinery first used at the Ravenhead Mine).
The council and local residents (including approximately 15 former miners from the colliery) were involved in the consultation and commission process through which Dream was selected. The plans involved a full landscaping of the surrounding area on land previously allowed to go wild after the closure of the pit.
Dream consists of an elongated white structure weighing 500 tonnes, which has been cast to resemble the head and neck of a young woman with her eyes closed in meditation. The structure is coated in sparkling white Spanish dolomite, as a contrast to the coal which used to be mined here.
Jaume Plensa himself stated "When I first came to the site I immediately thought something coming out of the earth was needed. I decided to do a head of a nine-year-old girl which is representing this idea of the future. It's unique."
The original design of the sculpture called for a skyward beam of light from the top of the head, and the sculpture's working title was Ex Terra Lucem ("From the ground, light"), a reference to St Helens' previous motto. Due to objections from the Highways Agency, the sculpture was not lit, but in 2010 a new planning application was submitted to St Helens Council for it to be floodlit.
The Dream sculpture is built out of moulded and cast unique concrete shapes, 90 pieces in all contributing to over 14 tiers (54 individual elements for the head, each weighing 9 tonnes (8.9 long tons; 9.9 short tons)). Dolomite was utilised as a concrete aggregate in order to provide the brilliant white finish. Additionally titanium dioxide was added to the mix in order to provide a self-cleaning mechanism. The construction required the construction of individual moulds for each piece and took a total of 60 days to cast.
The foundations of the sculpture extend 125 feet (38 m) into the ground with 8 piles driven in to secure it.
The sculpture is sited on an old spoil tip of Sutton Manor Colliery which closed in 1991 and it overlooks the M62 motorway.
I’ve borrowed all that from Wikipedia. The Dream sculpture was the focal point of this week’s mid-week stroll, kindly arranged by Keith on this occasion. I’d not been to the Dream before, and it was installed after my frequent trips to and from Liverpool via the M62 had come to an end.
Here’s today’s ‘selfie’.
After a bit of urban walking from our parking spot at the end of Norland’s Lane, a good path led to the track bed of the St Helens and Runcorn-Gap Railway that operated from 1833 to 1982.
A well used path then led to the summit of the knoll, actually an old spoil tip, on which the sculpture is situated. We lingered for some time as the sun dodged in and out of some black clouds.
Eventually a large group of walkers arrived to admire the sculpture, which is looking a little tired after nine years of strong westerly wind and rain. So we left, in what was the brightest weather of the morning.
The only flowers in evidence were the bright yellow of some gorse, but there were also lots of these teasel seed heads.
We continued along the pleasant route devised by Keith, pausing to admire a hunting kestrel and a majestic buzzard. Bird watchers would find plenty of interest hereabouts.
The walk ended a little beyond Pex Hill, a small nature reserve and magnet for dog walkers, which incorporates an old quarry that might provide the youth of Merseyside with their first experiences of rock climbing.
Here’s our route, from the good parking spot at the end of Norland’s Lane – 12 km with about 100 metres ascent. It took us 2.5 hours plus breaks.
Thanks to Keith for organising this, my first proper exercise since New Year’s Day, thanks to an annoying cold and subsequent chest infection.