06 Aug, 2009

B of the Bang sculpture meets a sad end

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

It was supposed to symbolise a new beginning, but the B of the Bang has met a sad end.

The last of the 180 hollow spikes on the sculpture next to Manchester City’s Eastlands stadium have been cut off for recycling, leaving the 56m (184ft) sculpture a shadow of its former self. Only the steel core remains after councillors decided it had to come down earlier this year.

The landmark, designed by artist Thomas Heatherwick, was meant to represent a burst of energy as an athlete burst out of the blocks, inspired by former Olympic sprinter Linford Christie saying he started races on the “B of the Bang”.

Instead, the sculpture became seen as an expensive folly plagued by safety problems. Now, the core and legs of Britain’s tallest artwork will be kept in storage while councillors consider its future.

Problems began before it was even unveiled. First, the cost doubled from £750,000 to £1.42m. Then, it opened two years past deadline.

And, with the first of a succession of spikes falling off days after it was unveiled in 2005, taxpayers ended up spending £300,000 on testing and maintaining it.

Manchester city council took legal action against Heatherwick and contractors last year, settling out of court for £1.7m damages for breach of contract and negligence.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese has promised that no more taxpayers’ money will be spent on the project.

Withington MP John Leech, a Liberal Democrat, said: “I hope this will be the last we see of the B of the Bang. It’s been a very expensive waste of public money. It’s certainly been a topic of conversation for a lot of people, so in that sense it’s been a successful piece of art.”

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