A GIANT neon orb could feature at the heart of the new Westgate Shopping Centre.

The plans for the artwork – the culmination of a lengthy process and shortlist of artists – have been revealed as the countdown to the opening of £440m centre continues.

The South Square, to be named the Leiden Square, was chosen for its central, open location.

The work – by Scottish artist David Batchelor – was inspired by the spherical ‘Astrolabe’ held by philosopher Roger Bacon in his statue outside the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in Parks Road.

Mr Batchelor, who has commissioned work at numerous galleries across the world as well as public places such as London underground stations, said the Westgate work needed a strong link to Oxford. He said: “In particular, I was drawn to the object cradled in Bacon’s hands; a spherical astrolabe or armillary sphere – I looked at how I could adapt, abstract and re-imagine this object as a large-scale public work.”

Shoppers could even perch underneath the giant orb as its raised stand leaves room for seating below.

A decision is expected on the installation next month.