THE proposed landmark artwork which will give St Helens its own towering rival to the Angel of the North has certainly stirred up a lively debate amongst Star readers.

Dream', created by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa will perch high on the former Sutton Manor Colliery, overlooking the M62. Measuring 20 metres high (65 feet), the same height as Antony Gormley's Angel of the North, it will be made from pre-cast concrete with an almost luminescent finish using a white marble and concrete mix. Dream' is an elongated nine-year-old girls head, her eyes closed as if dreaming. It will sit on a plinth representing a miner's tally, part of a checking system and a record of attendance.

If planning permission is granted, the piece will be fabricated in sections and transported to the site in late 2008. The construction of Dream' is currently being put out to tender, but arts bosses say they are hopeful of keeping it within the region.

But opinion has been sharply divided over the artwork, which is hoped will become a landmark for the North West of England.

While many have showed their support for the ethereal head, some have questioned the funding behind the piece, believing that St Helens tax payers will foot the bill.

However a council spokesperson explained that they will not be contributing anything financially to the project. They stressed: "It's being funded by the Big Art Project, Arts Council England, the National Development Agency for the Arts and The Art Fund."

Star readers have been forthright in their reviews of Dream'.

Posting on The Star's website, Stephen Wainwright defended the artwork: "None of the cost will come from the Council Tax. The Big Art Project in St.Helens is covered by grants from the Forestry Commission, Arts Council etc etc. This money would probably have gone down south if it hadn't been for the hard work of the ex-miners and others on the steering group who've won it.

"I think Plensa's creation looks stunning. It will be subject to a planning application like every other building and structure, so raise your objections then if you so wish. Well done to everyone concerned. I wonder how vandal-proof it will be though!"

D Barton from St Helens agreed: "I have just seen the statue on the local news, it is not what I expected but better than I thought the council would agree to. I will reserve judgement until it has been erected and what it looks like in situ. There is something pleasant about the girl's head and I think it will bring in people to see it from a large area. It is just a pity that it is where it is. Nothing in the area to encourage people to return.

But they were not opinions shared by Alfiesays, who added: "What is this! Are we living in St Helens or Easter Island? This self indulgent rubbish will make us the laughing stock of other local towns."

Steve D complained: "Its a big, stretched girls head. What in god's name has that got to do with our town, how does it represent the mining industry and what is the thinking behind it? I'm sure its an inspirational piece artistically, but fail to see ANY link between this and its supposed purpose. "

  • The progress of Dream' will be followed by Channel 4's Big Art Project, which is due to be aired at the end of the year.