Searchlight beacons

2013-06-26T14:20:21Z (GMT) by John Atkin
The centrepiece of Searchlight Beacons is a trio of 3.5 metre tall beacons located outside the terminal building and illustrating the three ages of London Southend Airport – the important role played by the airfield in World War II, its growth as a commercial airport in the 1960’s and 1970’s (when it was the third busiest airport in the UK, after Heathrow and Manchester) and today’s regeneration thanks to the investment of the Stobart Group. These periods are reflected by images of the Supermarine Spitfire, Bristol Freighter and Airbus 319 lasercut into the stainless steel of the beacons. The beacons are illuminated from the interior with LED lighting at night, creating a World War II ‘searchlight’ effect. The installation also includes eight granite pod seats inspired by the shape of airplane tail fins - five by the terminal and three outside the Holiday Inn. Searchlight Beacons took 18 months to complete, and utilised both traditional and digital sculpting methods – John used MAYA 3D modelling software at Loughborough University in order to precisely position the crossover intersection points of the beacons. 3D optimized topography-modeling was applied to evenly populate the aircraft shapes across the surface of the sculpture.