Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 12:22 UK
Shrewsbury's Quantum Leap built
Quantum Leap
Shrewsbury's 450,000 new sculpture is unveiled to the public on 30 September

A £450,000 piece of art has been unveiled to the public in Shrewsbury to mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin.

The 12-metre-high (40 feet) sculpture, entitled Quantum Leap, has been built in Mardol Quay Gardens, opposite Theatre Severn.

The new sculpture has attracted grant funding, making the cost to local taxpayers about £300,000.

Darwin's great, great grandson Randal Keynes officially unveiled the sculpture on 8 October.

The design represents Darwin's ideas and his impact on the scientific world.

Quantum Leap is designed to complement the bronze, figurative statue of Charles Darwin sitting outside the town library.

After suffering setbacks costing both time and cash the abstract design was unveiled to the public on Wednesday 30 September. However, Darwin's great, great grandson Randal Keynes will perform the official opening on 8 October.

Darwin coordinator Jon King explained the concept: "What we wanted was an iconic structure - something that was big, was bold, but something that could be interpreted in different ways."

Randal Keynes
Charles Darwin's great, great grandson Randal Keynes unveiled the sculpture

The new sculpture stands at just over 12 metres high (40 feet) and it is 17.5 metres long (57 feet). The sculpture's ribs alone weigh more than 113 tonnes, with foundations and piles adding a further 93 tonnes.

Quantum Leap has been designed by Pearce & Lal and has already been likened to a slinky toy, a shell, human vertebrae, DNA, a dinosaur's skeleton, the earth's techtonic plates and more.

The sculpture's design, like that of the neighbouring theatre, has inevitably split public opinion, as has its price tag.

Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council pledged £200,000 of the sculpture's original cost, while many of the materials are being sponsored by Aggregates Industry UK Limited - gifted, or offered at cost price.

Other grants have come from the Arts Council the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund.

However, Shropshire Council were later forced to pledge a further £100,000 of taxpayers' money to ensure the project's completion.

Building the Quantum Leap sculpture
Work starts on Quantum leap

The sculpture is made from locally quarried stone aggregate, echoing the design's intention to celebrate Shropshire's unique geology - 10 of the 12 geological periods are represented in the county.

Geology was also Darwin's key interest during his early life in Shrewsbury and later at University in Edinburgh.

The huge Quantum Leap structure, will sit within a new 'geo-garden', in what was a little-used part of the riverside off Smithfield Road.

Jon King described what visitors might see: "Imagine yourself stepping through that gateway, maybe two or three yards at most, and you'll see the start of this arch leaping up out of the ground and away from you towards the theatre."

The contemporary makeover for one of the main routes into Shrewsbury has been given a boost with the opening of Theatre Severn in March 2009, and it is hoped that the new developments will encourage more local people to access the area.

Quantum Leap unveiled: Your views
06 Oct 09 |  Arts & Culture
In photos: Quantum Leap unveiled
02 Oct 09 |  Arts & Culture



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