Swimming pool artist waiting for Royal wave

POOL ARTWORK ... Michelle Castles.
POOL ARTWORK ... Michelle Castles.

A SCULPTOR is looking forward to Prince William coming face-to-face with one of her creations when he opens a new leisure facility in South Tyneside.

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge, is coming to South Shields on Friday to perform the official opening of Haven Point.

Among the special guests to meet him will be Michelle Castles, the artist behind the Wavemaker, which hangs from the ceiling in the reception area of the £16m centre.

She said: “I’m very excited about meeting the Duke of Cambridge and I’m absolutely thrilled he will get to see my sculpture at Haven Point. It will be a real honour.

“Haven Point itself is a wonderful new building and a great space to exhibit my artwork.

“I’m delighted to be a part of this new centre and privileged to be involved in such an important occasion for South Shields.”

South Tyneside Council commissioned Michelle to create a unique piece of art that would reflect activity in the swimming pool and leisure complex, in Pier Parade.

Using wire mesh, she handcrafted life-size models of a man swimming the butterfly stroke.

She has since revealed that the proportions are based on the actual measurements of British swimming champion Mark Foster.

The striking piece overlooks the centre’s main reception area and provides a unique talking point for visitors, who can also view it from the café, gym and mezzanine.

The Duke of Cambridge will pass through this area during his visit to Haven Point before unveiling a plaque to declare the centre officially open.

He will then be introduced to Michelle, before continuing on his tour of the centre’s 80 station gym and dance studios.

Since graduating from the University of Sunderland in 1998, Michelle has exhibited all around the world and now specialises in suspended animation sculptures, which show the human body at its most youthful, athletic and powerful.

Only this year, Michelle’s work was viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors to the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The 38-year-old’s ‘Libertine’ wirework sculpture of a woman throwing her arms in the air, back arched, was exhibited in Chris Beardshaw’s gold award-winning Freedom Garden, which he created for Arthritis Research UK.

Michelle, who says her work is inspired by sport and dance, said: “Wavemaker aims to inspire others to get motivated and take part in sport and exercise, and swimming is one of those activities that can be enjoyed by everyone.

“In creating the piece, I was inspired by the strength and agility of the human body and by the power of the movement and grace of the swimmer diving in.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazedu