In Our Image - Aycliffe Business Park, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Saddlesore1000
N 54° 35.380 W 001° 33.814
30U E 592818 N 6050079
Quick Description: In Our Image is a landmark designed by artist Joseph Hillier to represent the industrial heritage of the area.
Location: North East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 11:24:58 AM
Waymark Code: WMEVCA
Views: 7

Long Description:
The sculpture is deliberately designed to appear unfinished and has figures climbing on it which look like real human beings from a distance. This great article describes the artwork in detail: visit link


16-metre tall North East landmark aims to be ‘Head and Shoulders’ above its art world competitors.

Throughout the world, landmark sculptures are erected by communities to celebrate or symbolise a significant moment in time with some going on to earn the accolade of global iconic status. At the start of June 2009 all eyes were on Aycliffe Business Park in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, where artist Joseph Hillier was installing his most ambitious artwork to date.

In Our Image is a stunning 16-metre tall steel sculpture that takes the form of a gigantic head and shoulders. On a daily basis people will be able to enjoy the permanent 4.7 ton feature as In Our Image peers over the tree tops whilst keeping a watchful eye over the town.

The dramatic monument that has been two years in the making, aims to pay homage to the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ of work and workers – a celebration of people who use their hands to practically ply their trade. In Our Image looks to celebrate Newton Aycliffe’s proud industrial heritage and symbolise the progressive regeneration of the region.

The original commissioners of In Our Image were the former Sedgefield Borough Council and due to recent local government reorganisation the project is now being delivered by Durham County Council.

The sculpture, a huge anonymous portrait, appears to be ‘under construction’, a deliberate statement by the artist in honour of the often undervalued professional workforce who build the products society use on a daily basis without knowing the skilled craftsmanship that goes into each item.

Gateshead-based Joseph Hillier has designed the compelling artwork to be an honest response to the culture, place and people of Aycliffe Business Park (ABP). He looks to have created a contemporary vision of man through a figurative sculpture that belongs to this particular period of time.

In Our Image will act as a unique gateway to the Business Park’s southern entrance leading through to the newly developed Heighington Lane West section of the Park. ABP is an essential driver for the regional economy and is the second largest park of its type in North East England.

The finished aesthetics of the artwork has an extra visual element with the inclusion of five laser-cut figures that look to be working and climbing upon the vast grid of welded steel – this helps to represent the ‘under construction’ strand of the sculpture. The figures have been modeled on fabricators who’ve worked on In Our Image, immortalising them forever.

Councillor Neil Foster, Cabinet Portfolio Member for Regeneration and Economic Development at Durham County Council, said: “In Our Image will go a long way to represent the hard work and progress that has been made in regenerating Newton Aycliffe.

“This magnificent landmark not only honours the town’s strong industrial heritage but also looks to the future vision of cementing Newton Aycliffe as an industrial force once more, which makes Aycliffe Business Park a fitting location to house this stunning structure.”

Joseph Hillier is a sculptor whose work and style is becoming sort after all over the country, as his sculptures can be found in a variety of public and private settings. Joseph (aged 35) is married to the artist Jo Coupe and they have a daughter together. Joseph talks about the inspiration behind In Our Image, he says by creating a contemporary vision of human inter-action he hopes to emphasise the importance of people working together within a world increasingly driven by technology.

Joseph explains: “My aim has always been to create a sculpture, which is a beautiful and poignant reflection of the relationship between humanity, technology and matter. As a sculptor I am always interested in how things are put together and it is exactly this fascination which drives me to make sculpture.

“From the drawing stages through to the present day it has been a long technical journey that has involved the invaluable input from a host of industry professionals. I hope the installation of In Our Image will be an exciting day for me and all of those people connected with its creation. I also hope the work will find a lasting home amongst the people of Newton Aycliffe and that they enjoy their new sculpture for years to come.”

Newton Aycliffe-based firm Aycliffe Fabrications won the national tender to look after the day-to-day management of the unique construction and fabrication of the project - making sure the artist had all of the appropriate technical support needed to shape his vision. Aycliffe Fabrications is run by company directors Christine Bewley and David Spensley.

Joseph Hillier and Aycliffe Fabrications have spent months working alongside one of the world’s leading authorities in civil engineering, Arup, to ensure every step of the intricate journey has been planned to precision – from the choice of materials through to the expert guidance needed to work out the exact measurements for the sculpture’s foundations.

As part of the initial pre-production process, staff at Arup’s Newcastle office tried and tested a 3D model of the sculpture using a cutting edge ‘virtual’ computer environment; this technological procedure put the sculpture through its paces under different situations including extreme weather conditions.

Christine Bewley, Director of Aycliffe Fabrications, said: “In Our Image has been the most technically challenging project our workforce has ever attempted in the company’s 30 year history. But it has also been one of the most rewarding. The team has acquired new skills that will translate into invaluable experience for future contracts.

“The sculpture will hopefully become a lasting tribute to the achievements of North East engineering of today and yesteryear. It’ll also be wonderful for all connected with In Our Image to have the knowledge that we’ve played our part in creating one of the region’s most distinctive pieces of public art.”

The whole practical journey of the fabrication process has been created into an education programme that has been enjoyed by over 700 young people from 45 local schools and colleges. It has provided a unique opportunity for them to see first-hand the fascinating creative aspects of engineering; a window hoped to encourage a high percentage of those young people into considering a career in engineering. A quest welcomed by those currently looking to recruit into the specialist industry that over the past few years has experienced a downfall of young people entering the field especially amongst women.

A video of the “making of In Our Image” can be found on the Aycliffe Fabrications website under the NEWS heading (please find some interesting stats about In Our Image in the Notes to Editor section of this press release).

1). The In Our Image project partners include: Durham County Council, the Regional Development Agency One North East, Sedgefield Engineering Forum and Commissions North (part of Arts Council England, North East). In Our Image has received support funding from the Regional Development Agency's Single Programme, Durham County Council's Regeneration Budget and Urban and Rural Renaissance Initiative.

The In Our Image education project has been supported by Sponsors Club for Arts and Business and the Industrial Trust.

2). Joseph Hillier was born in Cornwall and studied in Newcastle upon Tyne and New Orleans. After working in London for two years Hillier returned to Newcastle where he continues to work on commissions and exhibitions in the UK and internationally. For further information about artist Joseph Hillier please visit

3). For further information about Aycliffe Fabrications please visit

4). Some Interesting Facts about In Our Image:

Total number of man hours that went into creating

In Our Image (engineering / fabrication / administration) 5000 hours

Weight (breakdown):

Head and
1.75 tons

0.80 tons

2.15 tons

4.7 tons

Total amount of steel used i.e. tube and solid bar 550 metres (approx)

Amount of welding wire used 175 kilos

The sculpture consists of 750 Nodes (Spheres)

Each node has at least 4 transition points i.e. 3000 welded joints Each welded joint consist of approx 9 runs = 27,000 runs in total (All TIG welded)

5). Other ‘In Our Image’ material details: The special structural steel used in the build was sourced from a North East company - Phoenix Steel (of Hebburn, South Tyneside)

The sculpture's spheres were machined at Newton Aycliffe-based DSM North East Ltd with materials sourced from Phoenix Steel and Corus.

The welding rods for the project were purchased from Weldrack of Bishop Auckland. The local crane company used to lift the sculpture are called Ross and Wright of Newton Aycliffe.

The painting company who painted the artwork are called Barrier Ltd of Wallsend, North Tyneside painting company.'

Title of Piece: In Our Images

Artist: Joseph Hillier

Material/Media: Steel

Location (specific park, transit center, library, etc.): Aycliffe Business Park

Web link(s) for additional information: [Web Link]

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