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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 10:04 GMT
City rolls out Blue Carpet
An artist's impression of the completed Blue Carpet
An artist's impression of the completed Blue Carpet
A huge piece of art consisting of thousands of blue tiles is being unveiled in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The Blue Carpet artwork, outside the city's Laing Art Gallery, has 22,000 tiles and includes grains of glass from sherry bottles.

The work by Thomas Heatherwick cost 1.4m and has taken five years to develop.

It will be unveiled in front of European art experts and local dignitaries, and the carpet will be lit by spotlights from 1700 BST onwards.


No two blue tiles will be exactly the same

Newcastle City Council spokesman

The carpet, originally due to be completed in December 1999, is the result of a Newcastle City Council competition.

It's the latest in a series of works in the North East, including the Angel of the North, and renovated Baltic Flour Mill arts centre on the banks of the River Tyne.

Council leader Tony Flynn laid the first tile in July 2001, after years of work to insert bollards, seats, and trees around the carpet.

A council spokesman said: "All the tiles are handmade so no two are ever going to be exactly the same.

"The square design is being specified to have a 50-year life and will be safe, accessible, functional and can be easily maintained.

Tall trees

"The carpet is the unifying concept behind the design - it introduces humour, interest, colour and drama to a setting which contains a mix of building types and has no defining character."

Martin Callanan, Conservative MEP for the North East, has been one of the project's most vociferous critics.

The project should originally have cost 900,000 but costs have soared since the idea was first put forward.

Mr Callanan said: "I do not know how this much can be spent on something like that.

"It is incredible the council can make cuts in other vital areas yet spend so much on this."

Funding has come from the city council, Arts Lottery Fund, the European Improvement Fund.

The project has seen the transplantation of seven mature trees from nurseries in Germany and the Netherlands, one of which - at 16-metres tall - is the largest ever to be transplanted in the UK.

Towards the outer edges the carpet is punctuated by fold back seating. A spiral staircase will connect the carpet area, city centre, and Manors car parks.

The scheme is part of a process to develop and improve an area which has been heavily scarred by 1960s town planning.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

25 May 99 | Entertainment
Gateshead's Angel reigns supreme - for now
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