Striking “PaperBridge” Created with 22,000 Sheets of Paper and No Glue

Set against a gorgeous green backdrop, the crimson-colored PaperBridge is a striking sight. This installation was created by environmental artist Steve Messam, and it was a small feat of civil construction. The bridge was composed of 22,000 sheets of brightly-hued paper and weighed over 4.3 tons. What's most impressive was that this structure was freestanding and didn't have glue, screws, or bolts holding it together. Instead, Messam constructed the self-supporting arch by weighting it on either side with steel gabions filled with local stone.

The PaperBridge was a temporary work of art and part of the Lakes Ignite project in the Lake District of North West England. It spanned about 13 feet across flowing water at the foot of Helvellyn mountain.

Messam had the local surroundings in mind while forming the piece, and its relationship to it was important. “The intensity of colour used in the bridge contrasts with the verdant landscape making a bold statement of form and design,” he explains. “Alongside this the materials used have a resonance with the natural environment and the construction of the bridge also reflects local architectural forms, specifically pack horse bridges found throughout the area.”

PaperBridge was taken down on May 18, and all of the paper used was recovered and return to the Burneside Mill for recycling.

Steve Messam website
via [Colossal and Dezeen]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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