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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Gateway 'icon' finalists chosen
'The Red Cloud' features figures suspended on poles
A giant postcard, a cloud of 300 flying red people and three granite pillars have been named as the finalists in the search for gateway "icons" for Wales.

They were chosen from a shortlist of 15 ideas to mark three key points - the second Severn crossing, the A550 in Flintshire and Holyhead harbour.

The designs will now feature in a 13m bid for lottery funding, with a final decision expected in September.

A touring exhibition gathered public opinion to help choose the final three.

The Landmark Wales project, which wants the artworks to signal the passage from one country to another, received 106 responses from architects, artists and engineers from around the world following their initial call for entries.

Following the design competition, a public exhibition and consultation followed by a three days of judging were used to pick the final three.

More than 7,500 responses had come in from the public with 'The Red Cloud' design proving to be highly popular.

Tonkin Liu postcard design
Stairs inside 'A postcard to Wales' will allow visitors a closer look

It features 250-300 flying human figures and would be seen by drivers approaching the toll booths after the second Severn crossing.

"We really wanted to draw from the idea of where Wales is going today" said Steven Chilton, from Marks Barfield Architects.

"It is about moving forward and positivity, actually starting to have a claim on their own identity outside anyone else."

The movement of a flock of swallows and the translation of Cymru as "land of compatriots" also inspired the design which will be 22m at its highest point, he said.

In Flintshire, the 36m tall and 76m wide 'Postcard to Wales' would rise out of the River Dee and straddle the A550 which is the main road into North Wales.

Anna Liu, of architects Tonkin Liu, explained it would be made of a transparent woven fabric that would allow light to flow through.

Inside, there would be enough room for facilities such as a bookshop.

She said: "The motorway is coming towards the river. A lot of people come towards the river and don't realise it. We wanted to make that much more of an experience, make this picture of Wales come out of the river."

If the bid for Big Lottery funding is accepted, a national competition could be held to find the "most loved picture of the landscape of north Wales" to be used on the artwork.

Y Tri Maenhir design
The tallest 'standing stone' in Holyhead will be 82.5m

Finally in Holyhead Harbour, on Anglesey, three thin pillars made using locally-sourced granite will pierce the sky, where ferries depart for Ireland.

Brian Heron, from Ian Ritchie Architects, said he hoped Y Tri Maenhir would represent a "piece of Wales's own geology, a gateway and a welcome to Holyhead".

He added: "This project is one step towards really putting Anglesey on the map, not only as a geological destination but as a tourist destination."

The bid for 13.5m towards the 18m cost of the project faces competition from 23 other proposals, including three from Wales, said Peter Cole, chair of the Landmark Wales steering group.

The application would be submitted by 31 May. This would be followed by an assessment in July and a final decision in September.

He described the quality of the finalists as "extraordinarily high".

"We're a nation moving forward"

In pictures: Icon Welsh gateways
13 Apr 07 |  In Pictures
Gateway sculptures artists chosen
08 Feb 07 |  South East Wales
Gateway sculpture moves forward
18 Jul 05 |  South East Wales
Gateway sculpture plan for Wales
05 May 05 |  South East Wales

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