THE sculptor behind plans for a massive Man of Steel statue overlooking Meadowhall says he is pressing ahead with the multi-million pound project despite closing his art gallery in Sheffield.
Steve Mehdi shut his Ecclesall Gallery, on Ecclesall Road, after just three years, because of a lack of commissions in 2012 and the “poor economic climate in general”.
But he said he would soon be submitting a full planning application for the 40m statue to Rotherham Council and he was making a 10ft model to go on public display.
The former policeman, aged 55, of Grindleford, Derbyshire, said: “We put our heart and soul, and a significant investment, into the business and worked six days a week.
“We were disappointed to reach this decision, but feel we had no option given the global downturn, the timescale of which is unpredictable and beyond our control.
“I hope this will help dispel the questions surrounding the future of the Man of Steel project and I look forward to announcing more progress soon.”
The artist said the project, which is set to cost in the region of £2.4 million, could include an internal spiral staircase and a viewing platform.
Mr Mehdi said: “It is expected the money will come entirely from private investment, but may require ‘topping up’ with Arts Council or other funding, once we know the final figure.”
He added: “Inevitably, a project of this size is difficult to cost accurately with so many factors involved, and it’s likely to be higher.”
The scheme has the backing of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and the approval ‘in principle’ of Rotherham Council.
Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber’s executive director, said: “My understanding is that work is ongoing on a larger model and putting in a stair and viewing platform, inside the head as the northern eye so to speak.”