Jacob’s Ladder: connecting the sky and the earth through art

Seemingly weightless, resembling a plume of smoke rising up from the earth and drifting skywards, Jacob’s Ladder is in fact a 46-tonne sculpture located in New Zealand’s Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park

Art, engineering, landscape and religion are the four components at the heart of the work of Gerry Judah, the internationally renowned sculptor who was born in Calcutta before moving to London with his family.

In this case, the majestic Jacob’s Ladder sculpture was designed for Gibbs Farm, an area spanning 1000 acres (over 400 hectares) close to the port of Kaipara, near Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island. Gibbs Farm – a veritable open-air museum commissioned by wealthy entrepreneur and art collector Alan Gibbs – is home to over 30 sculptures by some of world’s best contemporary artists, including Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy.

Jacob’s Ladder is 34 metres in height and 46 tonnes in weight, made up of 480 white square tubes in steel placed one on top of the other. Every piece is slightly different in length and dimensions, with each one places in a different position and at a different angle to the one below to create an elegant curve, evoking the idea of Jacob’s Ladder, which angels were said to use to come and go from Heaven.

The engineering of the sculpture was overseen by Diales, who specialise in creating sleek, slender structures. Experts in computer-based design and Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology, Diales created customised software to achieve the correct shape for the sculpture.

Photo credit © David Hartley-Mitchell