Changing Turbines into Head Turners; Artist Working with Wind Farm Engineers

The Journal (Newcastle, England), December 16, 2008 | Go to article overview

Changing Turbines into Head Turners; Artist Working with Wind Farm Engineers


Byline: Adrian Pearson

WIND farms across Northumberland and the North Sea could be turned into striking works of art after renewable energy bosses appointed a wind turbine artist in residence.

Tourism chiefs have urged engineers to "proceed with caution" over plans to turn some turbines into colourful works of art as part of a scheme which energy groups hope will ease concerns of wind farms ruining scenic locations.

Alec Finlay is working with engineers at the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) to change the design of the sometimes controversial turbines.

As well as planning to paint some turbines, the artist has also written short poems on to blades and is considering building small "sculptures" around the masts of others.

Mr Finlay last night said he did not expect everyone to agree that turbines could be transformed into tourism-boosting works of art, but thought many would appreciate the potential.

He said: "Some people will be convinced by this that these turbines can be seen as art, and others will not.

"It's not my place to tell people what they should think about turbines but they should have the opportunity to at least see them in this light. I don't think all turbines should be turned into art forms but this does present the opportunity to actually use some of these to contribute to the tourism economy."

Mr Finlay added: "I know there are mixed feelings over turbines, some people think of them as being incredibly beautiful and others view them in a sense as a source of fear.

"While those differences are not going to go away soon, we are at a place in time where people should at least be given options."

Wind farm opponents have questioned the value of the artwork, amid warnings the bright and eye-catching designs may harm tourism-dependent businesses.

Dominic Coupe, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England's Northumberland branch, said: "In principle, provided the scheme takes into account various sensitivities, then it has some potential but if this is just an attempt to gloss over the legitimate concerns people have, then this could backfire. The big worry is that these schemes just don't work. I know in Cornwall they tried to use wind farms as a tourism boost and there was no benefit, but a lot of money spent.

"I can see most people taking a highly sceptical view of this, and for good reasons. …

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