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Janet Echelman suspends permanent fibre sculpture above Columbus

American artist Janet Echelman has installed a sculpture made from twine over the streets in Columbus, Ohio, anchoring it to the surrounding buildings.

Echelman completed her latest sculpture, called Current, above the city last week, making it the longest piece of public art in the Ohio capital city.

Twine installation over the streets in Columbus
Janet Echelman designed Current in Columbus

The artist used over 78 miles (125 kilometres) of colourful fibre to create the work, connecting to the buildings at the intersections of Gay and High Street in the city.

The sculpture is 229 feet long (70 metres) and at its highest point, it stands 126 feet (38 metres) above the ground. Columbus mayor Andrew J Ginther said the work was “visible from an airplane”.

twine sculpture columbus
It consists of knotted twine anchored to the surrounding buildings

It was constructed by knotting red and blue twine and suspending the resulting fabric weave from thick cords that were then attached to the surrounding buildings. Over 500,000 knots were used to create a “cloud-like” effect.

Echelman said the design was informed by the history of the city, naming the sculpture after the city’s early adoption of electric power.

Twine sculpture with skyline view
It is the longest piece of public art in the city

“When I approach a new project, I start by diving into the history of the place,” she said. “I became absorbed in Columbus’ historical narrative and quickly fell in love with the city.”

“The challenge to build such an ambitious permanent interconnected art commission over a municipal street attached to multiple private buildings might have been impossible elsewhere,” she continued.

View from the ground of twine sculpture
Columbus’ history of electric energy was an influence on its design

The red and blue colours of the sculpture were influenced by the confluence of brick buildings and the Columbus riverfront.

Echelman is well known for similiar sculptures, and has installed them in other major cities including London and Madrid.

While the London installation was installed over the busy Oxford Circus intersection, Current is the first time that one of Echelman’s work will exist permanently over a public street.

The work was funded by Jeff Edwards, CEO of local development firm Edwards Companies, and was subsequently donated to the Columbus Museum of Art. It is the largest private contribution to public art in the history of the city.

“This piece will be the north star for Columbus’ new culture-centric compass,” said Edwards, who hopes to make the area of the city a new arts hub.

“I envision this to be the first drop in the pond, sending waves throughout the Gay Street District.”

Ground view of twine sculpture
It was donated to the Columbus Museum of Art

Other recent works of public art that use colour for contrast include a series of spikey, inflatable sculptures created by British artist Steve Messam for Clerkenwell Design Week in London as well as colourful fishing net suspended over an abandoned building in China by architect Ma Yansong.

The photography is by Infinite Impact.

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