Anthony McCall. "Line Describing a Cone" (1973), during the twenty-fourth minute. Installation view at the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition "Into the Light: the Projected Image in American Art 1964-1977" (2002). Photograph by Hank Graber. Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Galerie Martine Aboucaya, Paris _460
Artist Anthony McCall tells Emma Pinch about a the column of cloud that could reach for the heavens from Liverpool’s docks
MEET the man who wants to make a cloud the iconic image of the North-West.
Appropriate, perhaps. But do we really need another one? We’re quite spoiled for clouds round here.
It’s a reasonable bet, however, that no-one will ever have seen a cloud quite like that which artist Anthony McCall has in mind.
The New York-based sculptor’s vision is for a mile-and-a-half high monument, a slender, twisting thread which stretches between the flat grey plane of Mersey at Morpeth Dock and the sky, on a clear day visible for 100km from all around.
McCall says the idea has been growing in the back of his mind for a couple of years. But it crystallised at the sight of the kilometre-wide flat expanse of water and disused docks he found in Liverpool.
“Towering above the water, it is this enormous empty sky that demands a slender column of cloud that rises up as far as the eye can see,” he explains.
“Imagine the vapour trail from a jet very high in the sky upended onto the Mersey.
“It’s an urban landmark, but it’s not a monument, it’s not triumphal. It’s something that is alive, part of the weather and the changing light. It’s very much part of the experience of the estuary.”
It sounds dreamy, futuristic, an idea something ripped from the pages of a fantasy novel.
But, if McCall is a thinker with his head in the clouds – practically he has his feet planted very firmly on the ground.
McCall has submitted exacting plans for the piece, which would be produced with FACT, to the Arts Council London 2012 for their Artists Taking The Lead competition. The Arts Council and London 2012 is offering commissions worth £500,000 apiece to 12 regions for a piece of public art to spruce up Britain and celebrate the Olympics.
Cloud Sculpture is one of five ideas shortlisted for the commission for the North West. It’s the only one which would be based in Liverpool.
McCall has worked closely with engineers to develop the science behind the ground-breaking project. It’s been modelled very carefully, and, despite the uniqueness of the work, he says he’s 100 per cent convinced of its viability.
Earlier this month, his detailed plans were submitted to a panel of Arts Council judges for their scrutiny. “Nature does something like this a thousand times a day all over the world in water spouts,” he explains eagerly.