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Giant mechanical spider suspended from Liverpool tower block

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Giant mechanical spider suspended from Liverpool tower block

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Local Government

Giant mechanical spider suspended from Liverpool tower block Giant mechanical spider suspended from Liverpool tower block

Commuters were met with an unusual sight today as a giant mechanical spider hung from a city centre tower block set for demolition.

The artwork for the La Machine show, which begins today and runs until Sunday in Liverpool, follows in the footsteps of The Sultan's Elephant that appeared in London in 2006.

It was created by François Delaroziere at La Machine after the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the Liverpool Culture Company, who are the organisers of the city's year as European Capital of Culture, commissioned the work and show for around £250,000.

Helen Marriage, the producer of the show and director of Artichoke - a London-based company producing the event, said: "It is the kind of show you can dip in and out of. She's (the spider) here until Sunday.

"It is a 20-ton spider, about 20 metres across and about 15 metres high. It's enormous.

"We brought the elephant to London in 2006 and that weighed 42 tons, moved slowly through the streets and definitely did not climb buildings. This one's more mobile and much more flexible.

"It has 50 axes of movement so all of it moves as you would expect an insect to move.

"It is an unfolding story that takes place in all the public spaces in the city using the great buildings as its stage."

The spider, which is made out of steel and poplar wood, is operated by 12 people strapped on to the spider's frame, Ms Marriage said.

Fiona Gasper, who works for the Liverpool Culture Company and is the executive producer of the 08 programme, said the idea for commissioning the show grew from witnessing The Sultan's Elephant in London.

Ms Gasper said: "One of the things we really wanted to have as part of the programme was a strong outdoor programme of street theatre and public art running right the way through the year.

"We had just seen The Sultan's Elephant in London and we thought actually that would be a real highlight of the outdoor programme.

"We thought we should commission something new for Liverpool that could have the same effect in terms of bringing loads of people together to have a good time and take Liverpool's name out nationally and internationally.

"We then went through a process of looking at quite a few ideas and their feasibility and in the end this was the one that we settled on."

By 9am around 12 people had stopped to take photos of the spider with cameras and mobile phones near Lime Street train station in Liverpool city centre.

Jean Evans, who lives in Birkenhead, in Wirral, and works as a nurse, said: "It's something really different, it's something unique and I think it's going to put Liverpool more on the map.

"It's something really unique for Liverpool for the Capital of Culture.

"I'm going to come back on Friday when it's moving around."

Eric Wilson, 82, who lives in West Derby, Liverpool, said: "I wonder what the devil they are going to think of next.

"It's novel, I think some will like it.

"There's never a dull moment in Liverpool. It's a great city."

His wife Dorothy, also 82, laughed and said: "I wouldn't like to meet it in the dark.

"They say it's going to walk the streets but I hope I'm not down here when it does.

"I think some people will like it."

Nick Brooks-Sykes, head of tourism and marketing for the NWDA, confirmed the project cost a "quarter of a million pounds".

He said: "We were convinced this was a great idea for the city to bring a spectacular show in to Liverpool during its year as Capital of Culture and we are confident that it will deliver great economic impact into the city over the longer term."

The spider, which weighs 37 tons when the motor that powers it is attached, is expected to move across the city later this week starting at the Liverpool Echo Arena at 11am on Friday.

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