Sneak preview of The Bristol Whales sculpture unveiled

Design company Codsteaks has unveiled a 3D model of The Bristol Whales, a temporary art installation that will be created on Bristol’s Harbourside in July as part of our European Green Capital year.

Photo: Codsteaks
The sculpture will show two whales swimming together through Millennium Square, with the tail of one emerging from the ocean, and the head and blowhole of the other. 

Whales are intelligent, beautiful, charismatic animals – they’ve become symbols of the world’s oceans

It will be unveiled on 17 July to coincide with the Bristol Harbour Festival.

“Whales are intelligent, beautiful, charismatic animals – they’ve become symbols of the world’s oceans,” says Sue Lipscombe, the Managing Director of Codsteaks, the company who has produced the designs for the sculpture.

“They have a physical strength but they also represent resilience, the potential for recovery provided we as custodians of the oceans take the right steps to protect them.”

The Arts Council England is funding the installation under their ‘exceptional award’ scheme, which was set up to help arts organisations respond to extraordinary one-off opportunities of national significance.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: 

“This is a really playful and inviting way to encourage people to talk about the sustainability of our oceans and it’s a great addition to the exciting arts and cultural programme for Bristol 2015 that we’re supporting.

“It’s great to see new work marking Bristol’s role in taking this forward and I’m really looking forward to The Bristol Whales swimming into Millennium Square this summer.”

Bristol 2015 has commissioned the art work as part of its public programme for the year, to help make sustainable living accessible and easy to understand.

Last year there was talk of possibly making a life sized sculpture of a whale. But the practical problems of design, like how to use wholly recyclable materials in the construction, meant moving on to other ideas. 

Sue explains that involving communities in the sculpture is central to the work, not only in Bristol but around the world.

This is a really playful and inviting way to encourage people to talk about the sustainability of our oceans 

“That’s how we came up with our concept The Bristol Whales – a sea of messages, an ocean of hope,” adds Sue.

“Our sea of recycled plastic bottles will have green messages inside them from children and adults from all walks of life from all over the world.”

It’s this sea of plastic bottles surrounding the whales, which will carry the sculpture’s “big message”, explains Sue.

“We want to be able to post personal messages that have come from not just people living near Bristol or in UK, but from all over the world – from international politicians, musicians, writers, actors and conservationists,” says Sue. 

“We’re also confident that this sculpture will fuel discussion and debate about plastics in the ocean.”

Plastic bottles will be collected and re-used after the Bristol 10k running race in May for use in the sculpture, and then be recycled when the installation is taken down.

The whales themselves will be created from wicker, harvested from Somerset willow, a natural material which will biodegrade over time. 

Students across Bristol will be invited to take part in workshops, where they try their hand at willow sculpture, and prepare messages to go into the plastic bottles. 

“By making this piece, we hope The Bristol Whales will be a focus for the message inherent throughout all the art works and projects during Bristol’s Green Capital Year – that people want to embrace new ways of sustainable living,” says Sue.

“Change can happen, change must happen, Bristol can be a leader initiating it.”



See also

The Bristol Whales