From the man who made the 'Gateshead Flasher', a 'Millennium Man' for the Dome

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The Independent Online

THE ANGEL of the North is getting a brother in the south. Anthony Gormley, the sculptor who made the 20m high Angel that stands outside Gateshead, yesterday unveiled an even more ambitious project to be built next to the Millennium Dome in south east London.

THE ANGEL of the North is getting a brother in the south. Anthony Gormley, the sculptor who made the 20m high Angel that stands outside Gateshead, yesterday unveiled an even more ambitious project to be built next to the Millennium Dome in south east London.

Quantum Cloud, which has already been nicknamed "Millennium Man", is a 29m high sculpture of a figure standing inside a cloud. Both cloud and figure are made from 3,500 steel needles, each 1.6m long, which blend into each other. It will stand on a 12m high pier just off the Greenwich peninsula, making it over twice the height of the Angel of the North.

It is one of seven pieces of sculpture commissioned by the New Millennium Experience Commission (NMEC), the organiser of the Dome, to stand outside the exhibition and welcome visitors. In all the NMEC is spending £1.5m on the seven works of art.

Mr Gormley, who won the 1994 Turner Prize, said yesterday that he hoped Londoners would take the mammoth sculpture to their hearts the way his Angel of the North had been adopted by people in the North-east.

"I don't mind if it gets given a nickname. The public are much better at giving names to things and they've started calling the Angel 'the Gateshead Flasher' because of his outstretched arms," Mr Gormley said.

"The Angel was evidently a figure. He has volume and was put in opposition to space. With the Quantum Cloud the body is exploded, it no longer has a fixed volume and all these elements are in flux.

"The idea is that it should be elusive and ineffable," he added. "I want two old ladies to be sitting looking at it and saying 'Can you see it Edna? Can you see the man inside it?' and her saying 'No I can only see thousands of shiny needles'.

"Human beings are a zone of energy and light that react with space and light around them. Quantum Cloud is a constructed monument to the future, about the possibility of seeing human beings as part of the wider chain of being. It is also a natural metaphor of the behaviour of flocks and herds and shoals."

Mr Gormley has employed computer software similar to that used to map mathematical equations in chaos theory to construct the cloud and figure. It means the 3,500 steel tubes which make up the sculpture have had their final position decided by a computer-generated image.

The civil engineers, Ove Arup, turned down the opportunity to build the sculpture because it does not obey any of the normal rules of structural engineering.

The final commission for the project was only made two months ago because the NMEC was concerned the sculpture might be impossible to build.

The other works in the project include a spinning drum, containing coloured water which creates a solid-looking mirror created by Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor, and a sliced cross-section of a ship by Richard Wilson. The slice of ship will lie in the River Thames beside the Dome.

Tacita Dean is creating a sound sculpture using the existing Blackwall Tunnel air vent which sits on the site. The circular vent will split into time zones and play recordings from ports around the world.

Another work, by Bill Culbert, is comprised of four, 30ft long light lines which are projected into the sky and move like a hand writing in space. The sculptors, Tony Cragg and Rose Finn-Kelcey, have also created works for the Dome's grounds. A famous London square is to be shored up to prevent it collapsing on to the underground under the weight of Millennium Eve revellers, it was announced yesterday.

The £1 million operation is being carried out at Parliament Square, close to Big Ben in central London. A thick concrete "raft" is being laid under the square, which lies above two underground lines.

"We have known for some time that at certain points along its route, the beams supporting the roof over the two lines may not be able to bear very heavy loads," London Underground managing director, Derek Smith, said. "For normal day-to-day use, this is not in any way dangerous. However, the potential for large numbers of people congregating on Parliament Square means that we need to take sensible precautions."

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