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Little-known artist takes over the Tate

It is one of the country's largest spaces to showcase the best of British sculpture, so being commissioned to create an artwork for the Duveen Galleries - the central space in Tate Britain - has not just drawn in hordes of visitors but also cemented the reputations of Britain's boldest contemporary artists.

Now, the gallery has selected a previously unknown artist in hope that she will become as celebrated as her earlier 'art star' counterparts, which include the Turner Prize winners, Mark Wallinger and Martin Creed.

Eva Rothschild, who is celebrated in artistic circles but virtually unknown outside them, has been plucked for the prestigious commission by Tate in hope that she becomes a household name. She has created an immense aluminium structure that has been likened to a "lightning strike" and a "giant scribble" in the middle of Tate.

Katharine Stout, a curator at Tate Britain, said organisers felt it was the right time to introduce Rothschild to a "larger public audience even though she is very well known among artists."

Rothschild has fully filled the immense space with the 80 metre long sculpture that weaves around the neo-classical interior of the Duveens. There is no barrier and the public is permitted to walk in between and around the 12-metre high sculptural piece.

The structure, which weights 1.8 tonnes, is entitled "Cold Corners" and Stephen Deuchar, who is the outgoing director of Tate Britain, said it serves to undermine the "pompous neo-classical" interior of Tate Britain.

"She has skillfully taken on the challenge of the Duveen Galleries which are huge, and architecturally rather pompous...It's a contrast between the old and the new," he said.

Mr Deuchar added that the public would have to decide how they wanted to interact with the "anarchic" structure, which can be climbed through or navigated around.

"Art galleries at their best ask people to rethink and renegotiate their relationship with the world around them. In its own way, this work does that."When the Dublin-born artist, who is now based in east London, was first chosen for the commission, she said she wanted to create "something that will agitate the architecture of the Duveens Galleries".

Yesterday she said she had visited the Duveens while Martin Creed's artwork, which consisted of a relay of athletes running up and down the gallery space, was installed. It took her two weeks to assemble the sculpture on-site.

"I felt I wanted to do something that would colonise the whole of the space, as well as disrupt it, but I didn't want to block it, I wanted to retain its vista; I also wanted people ot travel among the artwork," she said.

She added that surprisingly few alterations had to be made to her initial vision for the sculpture, comprised of black metal spikes, to comply with health and safety rules.

"There were one or two things maybe we had to shorten slightly. It did not seem to be a big problem."The Duveen Galleries is the second largest display space for sculpture outside of Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. Artists have, since 2000, offered the public weird and wonderful large-scale installations in the space, which have included a giant food grinder, by Palestinian born artist, Mona Hatoum, a life-size house by Michael Landy and an exact replica of the anti war demonstrator, Briain Haw's placard protest in Parliament Square, called State Britain, which won Wallinger the Turner Prize in 2007.

Rothschild's previous sculptures have included a piece called Jokes, a precariously stacked cascade of interlinked cubes, and Plain Gold Ring, a gold ring standing on what appear to be vertical gold ribbons. This latest sculpture opens to the public today until 29 November.