Each to their own, that’s what our mothers always say. This applies to everything, especially the things we use to decorate our houses. However, we’ve all seen a piece of furniture or art that’s made us go: “What on earth?”.
It seems the same applies to airports all over the world. We’ve counted down a collection of 10 weird and wonderful airport art pieces found in terminals around the globe. From Bangkok to Heathrow, we’ll show you a few things that’ll make you think: “What is that, and is it art?”
10. Yaksha Demon Warriors
Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Some people may wonder why there are gigantic demon warriors looming over their luggage in this Bangkok airport, and frankly, we’re not sure either. Modelled after the very same sculptures found at The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo), these beautiful but intimidating statues were supposed to act as airport guardians, but have just been relocated due to airport workers’ suspicion of them bringing bad luck. Although this may seem superstitious, the claims could be backed up by the various difficulties surrounding the airport’s construction, and even the claim by Feng Shui experts that repositioning the Yaksha statues will improve the airport’s positive energy flow.
9. ‘Doctor Seuss’ domes
King Shaka Airport
Although we really can’t figure out what purpose they serve, we love these little colourful domes at this elaborately designed Durban airport. They look like something straight out of Doctor Seuss’ imagination, and we wouldn’t blame you if you started reciting ‘Oh! The places you’ll go!’ as you board your plane. Remember, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourself any direction you choose”.
8. 26 ft Tall Anubis Sculpture
Denver international Airport
Denver International Airport is no stranger to controversial art decor concepts and conspiracy theories, and this next piece has done little to improve their reputation. As much as we understand the sinking feeling you get when you miss your flight, we doubt your pain would be alleviated by the presence of a 26 ft statue of an Egyptian death god. Erected in late 2010 in honour of their King Tut exhibit, this strange and ominous statue watched over the airport until January 4th of 2011, and we’re sure many visitors were glad to see it go.
7. The Peace Mural
Denver International Airport
Arguably one of this airport’s most infamous bewildering art pieces, this seemingly cheerful and colourful mural tends to shock viewers upon closer inspection due to the disturbing nature of the images. Entitled “Children of the World Dream of Peace”, it features children in coffins and gas-masked figures, and even an angelic figure holding a glowing flower surrounded by fire. Due to the number of complaints and conspiracy theories surrounding the pieces, the murals have recently been covered up. However, we are sure that they will be replaced by something equally weird and wonderful, and hopefully much less disturbing.
6. Delhi Hand Sculpture,
Indira Gandhi International Airport
This installation in Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3 has left visitors both puzzled and awed. It features nine beautifully crafted clay hands jutting out of the walls, surrounded by shining copper discs. Despite its appearance, this is not to be confused as a solely Hindu religious artwork because each hand depicts a ‘mudra’, a gesture of peace and goodwill. These symbols are used by many south east Asian philosophies, including yoga. The incorporation of all these different ideals enables the sculpture to convey a universal message of ‘go forth in joy and serenity’ – a welcome sentiment for the airport’s many visitors.
5. Courchevel Airport
A jet-setting-ski-lover’s dream, this airport enables you to step right off your flight and onto a ski slope. Although none of the decor is man made, it must be quite a surreal experience to land in the snowy mountains of France hearing nothing but nature, rather than a concrete airplane strip and automated boarding calls. Mother Nature is an excellent interior decorator, after all. However, since this airstrip is considered one of the world’s most dangerous places to land, we don’t recommend this airport for nervous flyers.
4. Seattle – Tacoma
Yes, the Americans seem to be the reigning champions of bizarre airport decor, and this piece from the Seattle Tacoma airport could give that Denver International mural a run for its money. Commissioned as part of Sea-Tac’s ever growing airport art collection, this strange little machine-like sculpture was conceptualised and executed by the Mac-Arthur foundation’s very own genius grant recipient, Trimpin. It’s entitled, “Of Matter, Monkeys and the King” and is made out of every day objects and children’s toys. It creates a playful ambiance as you traverse the aisle beside it, and tired airport visitors might feel like they are on their way to visit Willy Wonka. That’s not always a bad thing.
3. Girls at the Airport
This beautifully organic and well crafted copper sculpture was created by renowned Danish Artist, Hanne Varming. It was inspired by one of her trips to a French airport, where she saw two girls leaning over a balcony observing the busy, bustling airport scenes below. It serves as a reminder for travellers, encouraging them to stop and appreciate their surroundings and ponder their upcoming adventure.
2. Sculpture Town
Yamaguchi Ube Airport
Looking like something out of a Star Trek episode, this metallic ‘sculpture town’ is placed at the airport entrance, around the terminal, on the grassy lawns and elsewhere to emphasise the airport’s wide open spaces. The exhibit includes ten pieces with nine works previously displayed at Ube Biennale as well as one by sculptor Yoshitatsu Yanagihara entitled “Signpost Pigeon A”. As with most modern art pieces, opinions on the structures are divided, but most of the general public seem to appreciate the ‘science fiction style’ element of the works. If you love all things shiny and space-orientated, you will really enjoy these.
1. The Cloud
Terminal 5, Heathrow
Commissioned for the atrium of Terminal 5 at Heathrow, Cloud is a digital sculpture created by art and design studio Troika. The five-meter structure is covered in 4, 638 flashing lights, alternating between silver and black in an instant. It’s powered by two electronic drivers, one hundred and thirty four distribution boards and over sixteen thousand five hundred feet of cable. It’s basically a super powered pop art disco ball. Fun and a little frivolous, the sculpture really has no deep, metaphorical meaning, but if it inspires you to bust a little Saturday Night Fever move, we won’t judge you.