Exploring Superlambanana: Liverpool’s Iconic Sculpture

Ever wandered through Liverpool and caught sight of a vibrant, peculiar sculpture that’s part goat, part banana? That’s the Superlambanana for you – an iconic symbol of Liverpool’s creative and quirky spirit. It’s not just a whimsical piece of art; it’s steeped in meaning and has become an emblem of the city’s history and culture.

I’ve always been fascinated by how public art can capture the imagination of a city, and the Superlambanana is no exception. Created by Japanese artist Taro Chiezo, it represents the city’s past involvement in the trade of goods like cotton, sugar, and fruit, while also highlighting the importance of genetic engineering in modern society. Let’s dive into the story behind this extraordinary sculpture and its significance to Liverpool.

The Origin of the Superlambanana

My journey to unravel the story of the Superlambanana took me back to 1998. It was then that the unique sculpture made its first appearance in Liverpool, commissioned for the ArtTransPennine Exhibition. The exhibition aimed to create a collection of art installations that would draw a line across England from Liverpool to Hull. This was a visionary project, aimed at generating cultural dialogue between the cities.

Created by the visionary Japanese artist Taro Chiezo, the sculpture was more than just an art piece. It was a conversation starter, a statement about Liverpool’s past, and a nod to the future of genetics. In crafting the piece, Chiezo encapsulated Liverpool’s trading history, especially its role in the trade of lambs and bananas. At the same time, he touched upon the theme of genetic modification, hinting at the sheep’s historical significance to the city and the bananas imported through its once bustling docks.

Measuring at an impressive 17 feet in length and coated in bright yellow, the Superlambanana cannot be ignored. It’s become intertwined with the city’s identity just as much as the Beatles or the Mersey River. The beauty of this iconic sculpture lies in its ability to merge Liverpool’s historical narrative with contemporary concerns, ensuring the artwork remains relevant even today.

The Design and Symbolism of the Superlambanana

When I delve into the design elements of the Superlambanana, it’s clear that Taro Chiezo had a distinctive vision. The hybrid creature stands on sturdy legs encompassing the bulk of a banana and the adorable features of a sheep. Bright yellow encapsulates not only the playful tone of the sculpture but also pays homage to the vibrant personality of Liverpool.

The symbolism is deeply etched into its form; it’s a satirical nod to the dangers of genetic engineering. I find it fascinating how the piece marries the city’s commerce in Lambs and bananas during the 18th century with modern bioengineering apprehensions. This physical and conceptual amalgamation unavoidably invites passersby to ponder over pertinent issues concerning trade history and genetic ethics.

Not just a mere statue, the Superlambanana acts as a visual ambassador for Liverpool’s heritage and aspirations. Its position in the city is strategic, often moved around to different locations, serving as a cultural touchstone and reminding residents and visitors alike of Liverpool’s capacity to merge tradition with contemporary narratives. Its prestigious status among locals is so strong that it often dons various costumes during festivities, enduring as a cultural chameleon.

Superlambanana as a Cultural Icon

Since its unveiling, the Superlambanana has rapidly ascended to iconic status in Liverpool. It’s often spotted as a reference in various art forms and media, serving as evidence of its deep cultural significance. For locals, the sculpture stands tall not just as a quirky addition to the city’s landscape but as a proud emblem of Liverpool’s identity.

During public events and festivals, I’ve observed the Superlambanana take centre stage among the attractions. It’s become an essential photo opportunity, almost like a celebrity, with its vibrant hue capturing the attention and imagination of visitors and photographers alike. It’s fascinating to see how a piece of public art can double as a social phenomenon – a backdrop for thousands of shared memories on social platforms.

The Superlambanana’s adaptability is noteworthy. Over the years, it has been dressed in various outfits to align with events or promote causes, effectively turning into a mosaic depicting the dynamic spirit of Liverpool. Whether it’s decked out in the colours of a sports team or adorned with patterns highlighting social messages, the sculpture reaffirms the city’s ability to stay relevant across different domains.

Superlambanana and Liverpool’s History

In delving into the unique relationship between the Superlambanana and Liverpool, historical roots anchor the sculpture firmly within the city’s heritage. Liverpool’s history as a major port during the 18th and 19th centuries is widely recognized, with the city playing a pivotal role in global trade, especially in commodities like wool and bananas. These products were among the primary cargoes hauled through its docks, symbolizing Liverpool’s international economic influence.

The Superlambanana’s design is more than a quirky fusion; it embodies Liverpool’s past as a mercantile powerhouse. The sheep represents the wool industry, a cornerstone of trade that boosted the city’s growth, while the banana reflects its role in the fruit trade, marking Liverpool as a key entry point for exotic goods into Britain.

Beyond trade, Liverpool suffered and triumphed, undergoing dramatic changes from the Industrial Revolution to the rejuvenation of its docklands. The Superlambanana’s presence in various city locations becomes a tribute celebrating resilience and adaptation. Its mutating costumes mirror the city’s story — a narrative of transformation from mercantile past to cultural hub, with the artwork at its core revealing Liverpool’s ability to innovate and overcome.

The sculpture’s popularity among locals and tourists alike underscores its significance as a cultural landmark. It’s not just a static work of art; it’s a living chronicle with layers of meaning, constantly being rediscovered and reinterpreted by the people it represents.


The Superlambanana stands as a testament to Liverpool’s rich history and dynamic culture. It’s a quirky yet poignant reminder of the city’s past, fusing two unlikely elements into a distinctive piece of public art. Its charm lies in its ability to connect with people, sparking conversations and bringing smiles. As a local icon, it’s woven into the fabric of the city, a symbol of Liverpool’s enduring spirit and creativity. Whether you’re a lifelong Liverpudlian or a first-time visitor, the Superlambanana is a must-see, capturing the imagination and the heart of this vibrant community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Superlambanana?

The Superlambanana is a unique sculpture located in Liverpool that merges the features of a sheep and a banana, symbolising the city’s historical trading roots through its wool and fruit trade.

Why does the Superlambanana represent Liverpool?

It represents Liverpool due to the city’s rich history as a major trading port. Its design alludes to the wool industry and fruit trade (specifically bananas), highlighting Liverpool’s economic past and cultural adaptation.

Where can you find the Superlambanana sculpture in Liverpool?

The Superlambanana sculpture can be found in various locations throughout Liverpool, serving as a prominent cultural landmark and attraction for both locals and tourists.

What does the Superlambanana symbolize?

The Superlambanana symbolizes the historical significance of Liverpool’s trade industries, specifically the wool and banana trade. It also stands as a tribute to the city’s resilience and ability to adapt over time.

Why is the Superlambanana popular among locals and tourists?

The Superlambanana has gained popularity among locals and tourists because it is a distinctive and whimsical representation of Liverpool’s history and cultural identity, making it an endearing and memorable part of the cityscape.

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