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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Sundial puts Angel in the shade
Solar Pyramid
The Solar Pyramid is due to open in 2003
Plans for a giant sundial that would dwarf the Angel of the North and become the UK's biggest artwork have been given the go-ahead.

Chesterfield Borough Council has granted permission for the ambitious Solar Pyramid, to be built on a site overlooking the M1.

Designer Richard Swain described the 40-metre high structure, which will give accurate astronomical data, as "art meets science".

"In this age, we have lost the ability to do the big statement," he said.

The Angel of the North
The Angel of the North: "Extremely beautiful"

The landmark sculpture, to be sited by a lake at Poolsbrook Country Park near Staveley in northern Derbyshire, is due to open in June 2003.

Its prime position means it will be seen by the occupants of the 45,000 vehicles which go past on the M1 every hour.

It is the brainchild of Derbyshire-based company Art in the Environment, which has spent two years planning the project.

Experts from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and the Space Science Research Laboratory in Harwell have been involved in the design.

"It will be like a giant sundial, but it will also give details of the earth's rotation," said Mr Swain.

"We have always wanted to do things which are fairly monumental and are part of the landscape."

It is going to help regenerate the region - it is a Phoenix rising from the ashes

Richard Swain

The Solar Pyramid will be twice as high as the Angel of the North on Tyneside - but Mr Swain denied there was any element of competition.

"The Angel is extremely beautiful but the pyramid is new, it's something in its own right."

The design will be clad in polished stainless steel, which has been chosen partly for its symbolism for the area in which the sculpture will be sited.

"It is very near the heart of England's steel industry," said Mr Swain.

"But it's also in an area that's been devastated by the mining industry - both in terms of the environmental damage done by the mines, and by the social damage done by their closure.

"This is going to attract tourists and help regenerate the region.

"It is a Phoenix rising from the ashes."

'Significant monument'

The 635,000 costs will be met by corporate sponsorship.

Mr Swain said: "Now we have planning approval, we can press all the 'go' buttons."

The Solar Pyramid has also been welcomed by Chesterfield Borough Council, which has backed the project from the outset.

"It is an exiting project for Chesterfield," said planning committee chairman Pete Johnson.

"Many cultural and educational projects will be based around it and it will become a significant scientific monument."

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See also:

25 May 99 | Entertainment
Gateshead's Angel reigns supreme - for now
16 Feb 98 | UK
The angel has landed
12 Oct 01 | England
Angel of the Midlands?
30 Jul 99 | UK
Pinnacle of art?
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