Dream was a delightfully unexpected sight from the M62 and it was a great adventure to take the slip road and try to find a way to visit the sculpture.
The landmark sculpture is sited on the former Sutton Manor Colliery in St.Helens, close to Liverpool. The 20 metre-high artwork takes the form of a young girl’s head with her eyes closed. She seems to be dreaming, or during my visit, enjoying the first warm sun of spring on her face. The piece is white, which offers a marked contrast to black coal that lies on the form mining site. Its contours and reflectivity change according to the time of day and the weather.
Dream was conceived and designed by the world-renowned, award-winning, Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. His other works include The Crown Fountain (2000) in the centre of Chicago and Breathing, the illuminated glass dome of BBC Broadcasting House in London.
Commissioned by ex-miners and St.Helens Council, the sculpture reflects the aspirations of the local community, who, far from wanting a mining monument, sought instead a forward-looking piece that would provide a beautiful, inspiring, contemplative space for generations to come. Over and above honouring the human heritage of the site, the artwork is also intended to symbolise the area’s positive post-industrial transformation, become an iconic new regional landmark, generate significant economic benefits, and enhance local pride.
The site proved to be very popular amongst families, dog walkers, hikers, and boy scouts who all seemed to be enjoying the surrounding woodland and sculptures, as well as Dream, which sat high above the site. My favourite bit of the site was the bird song, and I’d like to visit again when the trees are fuller and the grass a little less winter burnt. The poems in surrounding sculptures were very moving and helped ground the site in its history.