Opening Line

ArtistDanny Lane (Website)
Location: Gateshead Interchange
Commission year2004
Opening Line artwork

‘Opening Line’ occupies a space between the Transport Interchange’s two main bus runways. It is over 90 metres long (the length of a football pitch) and up to five metres high, though its width is less than a single metre.

Danny Lane embraced its eccentric formal characteristics as an opportunity rather than a limitation. ‘Opening Line’ is unashamedly attention seeking and unavoidable.

The sculpture was developed from piles of rapidly made drawings on long scroll like pieces of paper. From these cumulative, high energy drawings arose a sequence of shapes which were first translated into small scale metal and glass prototypes, then into a series of gradually modified and refined maquettes. At this stage, thin glass and fine tools were used, so that, for example, the small laser cut steel prototype for the wave form in the final sculpture is as beautifully refined as a Victorian cake slice.

Even with a workshop as spacious and well tooled as Lane’s, this was the first work he had to have, in part, fabricated elsewhere. The large steel shapes in the sculpture were cut by a specialist company in South Wales and throughout the commission Lane had to find ways of achieving the least gap between his original creative spontaneity and the final objective, as his designs were transferred between several replicating and enlarging processes.

'Opening Line’ is a sequence of forms in steel and glass which can be read like a series of pictograms, although it is not a literal story as many meanings can be brought to is as there are people who look at it. Its elements allude to the region’s engineering and maritime heritage, the performing arts, mythology and the energies of natural growth and renewal. Universal icons such as the head of a dreamer, all seeing eye, a bridge transfixed by a glass beam and the interlinked heads of two birds in flight are contained within the work.

Danny Lane had never made anything quite as large as this before, nor had he made a work for such an unorthodox site. His response was to create a poetic narrative on an heroic scale. For Danny Lane the sculpture marked the passing of a voyage of discovery and now it provides a new experience for the many travellers who encounter the work on their own journeys.

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