A large horizontal whirling ballerina attached to the side of the Royal Opera House has been brought to life by a specialist movement solutions company, Movetech UK.
Globe Head Ballerina, by artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, was commissioned by the iconic performing arts venue in Covent Garden, London as part of the London 2012 Festival and will be in place for five years.
The life-sized figure was inspired by a photograph of Margot Fonteyn, one of the world’s best-loved ballerinas of the 20th century and modelled on Royal Ballet Soloist Melissa Hamilton – but it was designed to spin sideways, giving the installation team a huge head-scratcher to solve.
An even and steady rotation on a flat plain is a complicated enough affair, but rotating on a horizontal axis adds gravity into the equation.
David Houghton, technical director of the company that constructed the turntable, Movetech UK, said: “Vertically mounted turntables are the most difficult prospect of them all. If the weight isn’t balanced, the heavier part will cause it to slow down and then accelerate. It would look silly.
“Margot was one of the most elegant dancers of her day, we couldn’t allow the spin to judder and falter, so we needed to make sure we employed a powerful enough motor to ensure the rotation was smooth.
The piece was unveiled at the London Festival 2012 and will now stay in place for five years.
MDM Props Ltd completed the full installation, calling in Movetech UK to assist with the rotation.
MDM’s Tim Meaker said: “We’ve worked with Movetech UK for more than ten years on a range of projects, though this was the first time we’ve had to commission something they didn’t supply as standard.
There aren’t too many people with this sort of expertise, but they made the whole process really easy. When I talked about my requirement, they didn’t ‘um and ah’, it was a simple process, regarding rotation, weight of sculpture, and so on.”
We work with artists and galleries, and people come to us because they want solutions to their challenges – and working with people who also have that attitude is refreshing for us. Movetech UK are the turn-to people for turntables – even the weird and wonderful.”
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