Landmarks help define a place. They’re a signpost of time, a mark of human achievement and a beacon of community spirit.
When the Sheffield’s Tinsley cooling towers came down nearly a decade ago, many Yorkshire people felt like a part of themselves disappeared.
Ever since that moment, a local artist has been working to create a sculpture to fill the void left in the landscape and the Yorkshire culture.
One day, The Steel Man will sit and watch over the region. Here’s his story so far.
Building a legacy
At 32 metres, The Steel Man will be one and a half times taller than The Angel of the North. Overlooking the old site of the Tinsley cooling towers beside the M1, the sculpture will be made of stainless steel and will sit on a coal black column to celebrate the region’s industrial heritage.
At the foot of the sculpture will be the Interpretation Hub – an events space, shop and education centre that will enable advances in STEM education, helping to usher in a new era of industry in our region.
The man behind the project is the incredible Steve Mehdi, a local artist and former steel worker. We’ve been working with Steve, his wonderful wife Jane and their team for the last 3 years to help bring their vision to life.
When they told us about the project we knew straight away that we had to be part of it. We offered our services pro bono and set to work building the brand.
We created a brand identity that captured the spirit of the region. The logo is created from Steve’s original sketches of The Steel Man. The colours are inspired by the industry that made Yorkshire famous throughout the world. Coal black, steel blue and foundry orange. And a custom typeface called Steel Cut was created to capture the region’s industrial heritage and its modern outlook today.
The project so far
Initially, the project had to defend itself against beliefs it would be funded by public money. Quite the opposite is true – the project is funded by grants, private donations and local companies offering their resources.
Most recently, the team faced opposition from an unlikely villain – a superhero. Warner Brothers challenged the landmark’s original name (The Yorkshire Man of Steel), claiming it infringed on Superman’s copyright.
The team decided to change the name to The Steel Man and haven’t looked back as the construction start date comes ever closer.
Aside from a few challenges along the way, there’s been lots to shout about.
The Heart of Steel appeal captured the hearts of the public when it was launched. For a small donation, people can have their names and the names of their loved ones immortalised at the centre of the project.
When The Steel Man is finished, there’ll be a 2.5-metre, 3 tonne stainless steel heart inside the sculpture with the names of over 150,000 people engraved on it. We helped get the word out and people have donated from all around the world to make their mark and help make the project a reality.
We helped promote the Rotherham Heart of Steel (a replica of the Heart of Steel) which was unveiled in Minster Gardens in Rotherham. When it was launched, it was announced that 10% of all donations from the Heart of Steel appeal would be donated to The British Heart Foundation.
Recently, we’ve helped the team behind The Steel Man curate an exhibition about the project at Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham.
Needless to say, we’re immensely proud to have such a deep involvement with this project.
There is little doubt that this epic piece of public art will leave an indelible legacy in Yorkshire. It will become a landmark unlike anything the region has seen before. A symbol honouring the past, present and future of a county that’s so fiercely proud of its roots.