VISITORS to the British Tourism & Travel Show today had a HUGE surprise – in the Marvel-lous shape of Thor and the Incredible Hulk – as the spotlight was shone on home-grown heroes.
The giant heavy metal characters proved a big draw at the trade show in Birmingham’s NEC which annually celebrates the best attractions Britain has to offer holidaymakers.
They were crafted by the experts at the British Ironwork Centre & Sculpture Park in Oswestry, Shropshire, and made entirely of recycled metal and unwanted machine parts.
Thor stood mighty, brandishing mystic hammer Mjölnir, while the Hulk took a break, sitting on a bench on the edge of the hall where 200-plus exhibitors were showcasing their wares.
This year’s show comes as experts are forecasting that 55 million travel trips will be taken by Brits eager to explore the attractions and natural splendour on our own doorstep this year, with another 17 million overseas visitors on the way.
The British Ironwork Centre is no stranger to larger than life characters and is famous particularly for the Knife Angel, which is currently at Guildford Cathedral as part of a UK tour.
With more appearances coming up this year confirmed through to December, visitors to the Centre in Shropshire won’t be able to see the remarkable artwork made from more than 100,000 seized blades – but watch out for it coming to a site near you.
It was created to highlight the negative effects of violent behaviour, the need for social change, and to serve as a memorial to celebrate lives lost through knife crime.
Likewise, the Centre’s Manchester Bee Monument, the first UK sculpture to be made entirely of firearms, has become the catalyst for anti-gun violence campaigners, and is also heading out on tour.
It’s another powerful piece of art that delivers an important message. Watch for appearances around the UK in 2024, starting at Gloucester Cathedral in February.
There are, however, all manner of creatures to be found along the sculpture trail at the site. The Hulk, in particular, may well have you seeing double – because the NEC visitor has a close relative: there’s a giant green sculpture of him at Oswestry too.
They’re currently building a green-themed exhibition of sustainable sculptures hence both Hulks are made of various washers, springs, ball bearings and many other scrap parts.
One of the sculptures, I’m told, uses recycled materials from all 195 countries in the world.
Watch out, too, for Gigantica, who guards the entrance to the British Ironwork Centre, a Transformer-like titan that has been created to draw attention to the continuing plight in Ukraine.
In keeping with the ethos of the Centre, the robot is created of entirely of scrap plastic bumpers and other car parts, doubling as a champion of recycling.
And did I mention that there’s a gorilla made entirely of spoons? Of course, there is. Uri Geller would go ape…
The 60-acre attraction is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, with current high season admission just £7.50 for adults and £5 for concessions. Children under the age of 18 get in free.
For just £20 a year visitors can take out membership which allows unlimited visits for 12 months, as well as access to further special sculpture trails and indoor exhibitions, cafe discounts and 10% off showroom sales.
For more info, see the official website.
1 comment ›