Based on a ‘message in a bottle’, a tribute to Captain Cook. Wrapped around the outside are the words “we had every advantage we could desire in observing the whole of the passage of the Planet Venus over the Sun’s disk” selected from Cook’s Journal of his first voyage, (3rd June 1769).
Coosje van Bruggen of Holland, selected for the inside a sentence from one of her poems, written in 1987, Memos of a Gadfly. Both sentences read upwards in a spiral and are in handwriting.
The Sculpture measures 32 feet high, 12 feet in diameter, weight 8 tonnes.
The main body is constructed from rolled steel segments. Painted white and blue, it leans at about the same angle as the Tower of Pisa.
Commissioned by Middlesbrough Borough Council in 1988, and sponsored by local companies at a cost of £135,000. It took 5 years to produce. £5000 was paid by the Middlesbrough ratepayers, and the balance from Northern Arts and business sponsors.
Sculptors were husband and wife Claes Oldenburg (Sweden) and Coosje Van Brugen (Netherlands).
From a drawing by Claes Oldenburg a 3-D model was constructed in plaster and wood by unemployed youngsters at AMARC, Middlesbrough. A second scale model was constructed by Lippincot in the USA, and then the 32 feet high sculpture was constructed by Hawthorn Leslie Fabrication Ltd, at Hebburn, prior to the sculptor finalising the edges of the letters.
Unveiled on 24th September 1993.
The sculpture came top in the 1994 national competition Arts Council/British Gas Working for Cities Awards.
Incorporated within the sculpture, the message around the outside:
“We had every advantage we could desire in observing the whole of the passage of the
planet Venus over the Sun’s disk.”
The text inside:
“I like to remember seagulls in full flight gliding over the ring of canals.”
Latitude/Longitude: 54°34’57”N, 1°14’09”W
Cook’s Log, page 806, vol. 14, no. 4, (1991)
Cook’s Log, page 1007, vol. 17, no. 1, (1994)
Cook’s Log, page 1295, vol. 19, no. 3, (1996)