Although close to our hearts, Nottingham may not be where you’d expect to find a sculpture that has gone on to influence art in New York City. However, Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror, first commissioned by the Nottingham Playhouse to stand outside its frontage, did just that.

The Man: Kapoor, a British sculptor born in Mumbai, has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s. He has worked with the Tate Modern and the Millenium Dome and his sculpture Orbit has been commissioned as a permanent artwork for the Olympic Park.

The Artwork: In 1995, Kapoor began his work with mirrored surfaces. Sky Mirror, a large mirror piece that reflects the sky and the architectural surroundings of Wellington Square in Nottingham, was unveiled in 2001. The sculpture’s six-metre wide concave dish of polished stainless steel is angled up towards the sky for its surface to reflect the ever-changing environment. The physical mirroring of the piece aims to provoke a sense of inner reflection for the viewer by drawing them into its gently distorted image. At the same time it seeks to encourage an experience of connectivity with the landscape from a different visual perspective. At £900,000, it was, at the time, the most expensive piece of civic art funded by the National Lottery and in the autumn of 2007 it was voted ‘Pride of Place’ in a poll to find Nottingham’s favourite landmark.

A larger version of Sky Mirror, 3 stories tall with a 35-foot diameter, was temporarily installed in 2006 by the Rockefeller Centre in N.Y.C. In relation to this installation, Kapoor has talked about his interest in the idea of the ‘non-object’, a sculpture that “suggests a window or void and often seems to vanish into its surroundings”. Sky Mirror later moved to Kensington Gardens in 2010, as part of Kapoor’s show ‘Turning the World Upside Down’.

Lisa Neiss

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