This is why a post box has been tied into a knot by sculptor Alex Chinneck in Sheffield

A sculpture of a red post box tied into a knot has appeared overnight in Sheffield – and it’s the work of artist Alex Chinneck, who is behind the long-awaited project to replace the city’s demolished Tinsley Towers which is gathering momentum again.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 09:00 am
Updated Saturday, 28th September 2019, 08:42 am
A postman stood beside an art work titled Alphabetti Spaghett by artist Alex Chinneck on Norborough Road in Sheffield, Yorkshire. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 26, 2019. British artist Alex Chinneck has returned with three identical new public artworks across the UK titled: 'Alphabetti Spaghetti'. The sculptures which appeared overnight in London, Margate and Tinsley in Sheffield, resemble traditional red metal pillar post boxes which have been tied in knots. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The twisted Royal Mail pillar box, a piece Alex has titled Alphabetti Spaghetti, has popped up on Norborough Road in Tinsley where it will remain until Sunday.

In autumn 2017 Alex revealed his ideas for Onwards & Upwards - a series of four 100ft red-brick chimney stacks along the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, starting close to the M1 flyover near Meadowhall where the Tinsley Towers once stood.

Alex was commissioned by Sheffield Council, which had secured £1m including £450,000 in sponsorship from Eon, the energy company that owned the towers and runs the nearby Blackburn Meadows Power Station, and funding from Meadowhall’s owner British Land.

A drawing of Alphabetti Spaghetti.

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But the Sheffield City Region lodged a further bid for a share of the Government’s £15m Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, to fast-track the sculptures’ arrival in 2019, coinciding with the canal’s bicentenary.

Up to £4 million was potentially available - in Sheffield, the money would also have paid for additions such as a café and visitor centre. But in March 2018 the region lost out to Blackpool, Bradford and the Lake District. In response, the council said it was going back to the drawing board.

Now detailed design for the first chimney in the series - a 30-metre tall cracked chimney, illuminated from within - has started. The location of the chimney has been confirmed as the Victorian pump house on the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, by the entrance from Meadowhall South-Tinsley tram stop. Site investigations took place over the summer and costs should be determined by the end of November. A planning application could be submitted before 2020.

Henry Boot Construction has been appointed as principal contractor for the project, and is supporting the installation of the knotted postbox in Tinsley.

Artist Alex Chinneck brought a temporary 'peeling road' installation to Sheffield in 2017. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Alex has brought work to the city before to whet people's appetites – in 2017 he unveiled a ‘peeling road’, with a car hanging upside down, on Tinsley’s Old Sheffield Road. More than 5,000 visitors saw the piece over six days.

Other versions of Alphabetti Spaghetti have appeared at Caxton Works in London, where a knotted post box will remain permanently, and in Margate, coinciding with the Turner Prize exhibition in the seaside town. Alex has previously worked in both places.

No variation to the design of Royal Mail pillar boxes is allowed other than in very exceptional circumstances.

Alex said: “I want as many people as possible to be able to see and hopefully enjoy my work. I’m excited to unveil this series in three places simultaneously which have a personal connection for me. We’re also looking forward to touring the knotted boxes to other locations across the UK.”

Alex Chinneck on the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Coun Mary Lea, the council's cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure, said she was ‘thrilled’ that Alex was back in Tinsley.

“As the thousands who saw his upside-down car will testify, art can appear in the strangest places and conjure the strangest reactions," she said.

“Tinsley may not be a place that people expect to see great art up close and personal – and that’s what makes this even more special.

“Projects like this are a sign of things to come for this area as work continues on the Onwards & Upwards project. This exciting project, working hand in hand with an acclaimed artist, is still very much part of our plans and will see a stunning canal-side trail that promotes healthy living, heritage and cultural engagement.”

How the 'cracked' tower would look.
Pictured is the Knotted Postbox sculpture called Alphabetti Spaghetti by artist Alex Chinneck which has appeared on Norborough Road,Tinsley, Sheffield. Pictured is Denise Vickers with her son Riley. Picture: Steve Ellis
Pictured is the Knotted Postbox sculpture called Alphabetti Spaghetti by artist Alex Chinneck which has appeared on Norborough Road, Tinsley, Sheffield. Picture: Steve Ellis
Pictured is the Knotted Postbox sculpture called Alphabetti Spaghetti by artist Alex Chinneck which has appeared on Norborough Road, Tinsley, Sheffield. Pictured is Shamir Khan. Picture: Steve Ellis
A woman walks past an art work titled Alphabetti Spaghett by artist Alex Chinneck on Norborough Road in Sheffield, Yorkshire. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 26, 2019. British artist Alex Chinneck has returned with three identical new public artworks across the UK titled: 'Alphabetti Spaghetti'. The sculptures which appeared overnight in London, Margate and Tinsley in Sheffield, resemble traditional red metal pillar post boxes which have been tied in knots. Danny Lawson/PA Wire