J&C Joel supplied and installed a special fabric covering for four spectacular light sculptures designed by Turner Prize nominee artist Mel Chantrey located in a new £75 million retail development, MetQuarter. Located in Liverpool, MetQuarter is a hybrid environment, resembling both art gallery and the atrium of a contemporary chic hotel. The light sculptures provide a focal point to a new shopping experience.

The scupltures were fabricated by Midas, who asked J&C Joel to provide specialist input on the project. The impressive 10m-high sculptures are internally lit with LEDs.

“We asked J&C Joel to deal with this element of the work because of their expertise with fabrics and because they were very highly recommended,” Chantrey comments. “We needed a manufacturer/installer that could see that part of project all the way through. The team was enthusiastic and paid great attention to detail.”

At J&C Joel, drapery manager Neil Cartwright took up the challenge to produce a suitably durable fabric that took light well. “J&C Joel has undertaken similar aesthetic projects before, but nothing of this size and scale, and we were really excited about the challenge of being involved in such a prestigious piece of work,” says Cartwright.

After much experimentation with lightsources and materials, Joel’s came up with a white Cotton Lycra 170cm wide Ultra Stretch fabric, which was treated with Durably Flame retardant to SB 5867.

The portable aluminium frames were brought to J&C Joel’s Sowerby Bridge factory for the fabric to be designed and manufactured to suit each shape and contour. “The tricky part was allowing just the right amount of ‘spare’ fabric in the shape, so that the final adjustments could be made once they were on site and in situ,” Cartwright explains. As all four sculptures were different designs, each fabric covering was produced and fitted individually then removed for transportation to site.

The manufacturing process took just over a week to complete. After the sculptures were transported to the MetQuarter, a pair of J&C Joel installation teams followed and installed the fabric covers.

The wooden columns for the sculptures were produced by Hutchfield Furniture from Chatham, Kent and Equation Lighting from London designed the illuminations.

As the dusk draws in, the effect is dramatic with the sculptures glowing alternatively pink and blue and swapping identity. Every hour they pulse through all the colors of the spectrum for 10 seconds and then change to their next color which gradually grows in intensity.

Chantrey also created a 70m illuminated ceiling artwork with which the lanterns work in unison and it looks equally as stunning during the day.