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Sainsbury Centre adds 10-metre tower to UEA sculpture park

A 10-metre tower based on a design by Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin from 1919 will be unveiled as the latest addition to the sculpture park at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts this month.

The large-scale model, created by architect Sir Jeremy Dixon, is a steel-framed spiral design based on Tatlin’s idea for a monument in St Petersburg intended to be 400 metres high - taller than the Eiffel Tower - but which was never built.

It was donated to the Sainsbury Centre by the Royal Academy of Arts and is the most ambitious attempt to recreate Tatlin’s unbuilt masterpiece. This version is based on Tatlin’s original model and his drawings of the Tower. It will be assembled over six days. It will be formally unveiled on Friday, 13th October.  

The model is part of the museum’s collection of Russian Avant-garde art, design and architecture. The tower is the centrepiece of a wider season celebrating Russia at the Sainsbury Centre. The season will comprise two exhibitions, Royal Faberge and Radical Russia, two publications, a conference and many public events.  

Vladimir Tatlin (1885 – 1953) was one of the most important artists of the European avant-garde. He was commissioned by the Soviet government to design the monument as a headquarters of the Third International, an international organisation that promoted global communism. 

Calvin Winner, Head of Collections at the Sainsbury Centre, said: “Tatlin’s Tower is clearly in the aesthetic spirit of the existing architecture of Lord Norman Foster and Denys Lasdun found on UEA’s campus. 

“It reflects the spirit of Modernism that created the University campus during the 1960s. The tower has become one of the most important influences of the 20th century for artists, architects and designers and, therefore, a true icon of the century.”

Its main form is constructed from a steel framework that creates a twin helix that extends in a series of steps. The structure supports four large suspended geometric structures – cube, pyramid, cylinder and hemisphere. In the original tower these had specific functions and were designed to rotate at different rates of speed.

Mr Winner said: “Tatlin’s Tower will provide a magnificent addition to the sculpture Park at the University of East Anglia. The Park is being developed and curated by the Sainsbury Centre on behalf of the University. The ambition is to bring the very best UK and International art to the region for the benefit of visitors, students and staff.”

The Russia Season runs from 14 October 2017 to 11 February 2018 and entry costs £12 or £10.50 concessions, or free for Members and Student Members. Car parking and entry to the Sainsbury Centre are free as are visits to the sculpture park to see Tatlin’s Tower. For more information see scva.ac.uk.