The Arches of Oman arrives in Muscat!

The Arches of Oman, a stunning water sculpture by Giles Rayner, is now situated in the pristine new gardens adjacent to The Royal Opera House, Muscat. Commissioned by Muscat Municipality and realised by Giles’ team in Britain, it is a truly extraordinary work of art, offering unique views from all surrounding approaches.

Officially commissioned in late 2015, this public sculpture project has gone from vision to reality. The multi-national team who operated under the leadership of the Commission Director, Julian Glyn-Owen, was primarily British. They also utilised material and skills from Oman as well as from Finland, Germany and Italy, making this a very international project.

Starting life in the UK, the sculpture was developed by a trans-national group of 12 companies consisting of design engineers, fabricators and specialists. Constructed of Duplex, the highest grade of stainless steel, it was pre-polished in Birmingham, cut, formed and fabricated in Darwen. It had the final trial assembly in Rotherham before being shipped to Oman. The water and electrical systems hidden beneath the site were designed and tested in the UK and installed in late 2016 in advance of the arrival of the sculpture.

Arches sits above a 25m wide purpose built oval pool and reaches 12m in height. Its design is formed of two entwined tusks which curve around one another, with a flowing curtain of water arcing and falling between them.

Giles Rayner, the sculpture’s creator, is an established figure in the world of water sculpture. His work can be found in locations in North America and Europe in his imaginative and highly original style. 

Usually large in scale, Giles work uses copper, stainless steel and bronze, giving a strong energy and sense of intrigue to his aesthetically beautiful designs. As with all his work, Giles created this design as a response to and sympathetic with its surroundings. 

“The abstract sculpture was influenced by the arch shape and by the Royal Opera House itself” explained Giles. “Movement is provided by the variable water jets and also by its sinuous curves which cause it to appear to rotate as you pass around it. It is the focal point of the beautifully landscaped gardens in which it sits.” 

“It is stunning during the day but then provides a very distinct vision at night through the careful placement of a series of submerged lights in the pool beneath.”

Work on the sculpture required thousands of hours and co-ordination with civil engineers in Oman to ensure its safe delivery to site in Muscat for assembly during June 2017. Julian Glyn-Owen directed the final assembly outside The Royal Opera House. This took 22 days and continued without pause through the Holy month of Ramadan and into Eid.

Across the project, teams from both Oman and the UK have brought specialist skills to complete the work, including the road and sea transport of the sculpture from Rotherham to Southampton to Muscat. This required over 10 trucks across three locations, before four cranes were used to assemble and lift the sculpture into its final position.

Work on the finer details of the piece including the water pumps, hosing, lighting and infrastructure needed to allow the sculpture to come to life are now complete. “Its final appearance is both imposing and elegant, with its geometric shape enhanced by flowing water from over sixty nozzles throughout the sculpture,” said Julian Glyn-Owen.

Surrounded by the beautifully designed gardens and flanked by The Royal Opera House, The Arches of Oman represents a great feat of teamwork and engineering. The project has reached its successful conclusion; to realise a grand vision in a unique location for all of Muscat’s visitors to enjoy.
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