At last Sophie and I did an outing together yesterday, and we went on our 2nd Art Trail gleaned from the Art UK website, this time South of the rivers, and starting out in County Durham at a place called Ferryhill where we were to find 3 artworks. It’s a nice little town, built around the mining community in the early 1900’s. Of course the mining industry went tits-up ages ago, and the last mine at Ferryhill closed in 1968.
Our first ‘artwork’ on the list is Cleves Cross and I would beg to differ in it’s designation. It’s not an artwork in my lexicon, such as it is, as we’re looking at a lump of sandstone.
However, the lump of sandstone is a fragment of a 12thC medieval cross, set in the ground near the original site, and roughly shaped and with pecked marks. So there’s that.
Several theories exist as to how Ferryhill got its name and the most popular theory is that in the 13th Century, Sir Roger De Ferry (or Ferie), killed the last wild boar near Cleves Cross – certainly the seal of Sir Roger De Ferie still exists and shows a Boar passant. We parked up in De Ferie Court and saw these road signs ~ which do look more like artwork but are not listed on the Art UK site.
Our next artwork, has the lofty name of ‘Beacon of Europe’. Commissioned by the town council, designed by Robert Olley and Bill Kataky then built by the North Eastern Granite Company Ltd. Bearing in mind that County Durham voted overwhelmingly to Leave the EU, I found it rather sad.
We started working our way back up to Sunderland, (where Sophie lives when in England) with our first stop being at the little village of West Cornforth, known locally as “Doggie” though where that name came from is anyone’s guess. It may relate to the fact that dog irons were made there at one time, which seems good enough to me. We were looking for an artwork called Past and Future, by artist Philip Townsend, which turned out to be two large blocks of buff sandstone that are carved on their front faces with depictions of life in the mining community, set in what looked like a kids playground.
“The block entitled ‘Past’ is inscribed at the top with the words, ‘the past we inherit’.This sculpture, shows a ‘worm’s eye’ view of a scene from the past in which a miner, just returned from work, with his whippet at his feet, is about to release a racing pigeon into the air. In the foreground, sitting on the pigeon basket is his young daughter who is tempting another bird with bread, while to the left a factory chimney releases its swirling smoke, encircling the scene. The block entitled ‘Future’ is inscribed at the top with the words, ‘the future we build’. In this second sculpture, we have a ‘bird’s eye’ view: the years have passed and the young girl is now an elderly lady but still tempting the birds with her bread, while her skateboarding grandson has a pigeon feeding from his uplifted hand.~ Art UK “(He’ll be eating it next at the rate our country is going to the dogs).
I’m glad they put that on the website as I wouldn’t have worked it all out for myself!
Not listed on Art UK, but in the same park as the Past and Future, there was this..
So off we went to our next place, Quarryington Hill, another mining village ( there’s a lot in County Durham!) for another mining related artwork, though this one was quite spectacular and informative. As with Past and Future, ‘Into The Depths’ is also by Philip Townsend, and the sculpture comprises two massive triangular blocks of Dunhouse Buff sandstone, base-heavy and tapering in thickness, which sandwich a central Iroko hardwood column.
Back up to Sunderland, we went looking for ‘Delegation’, a sculpture by Tord Kjellstrom with glasswork by Creative Glass Ltd, of seven towering figures; the highest being 7.9 metres tall. Each is capped with a glass light box and shaped face. You would have thought 7.9 meters tall would be easy to spot, but it wasn’t. We went to the given postcode and ended up in the carpark of a business park. A little man in a yellow coat came out to see if we were lost, (um possibly) and when asked about the sculptures directed us to a wildlife park which had to cast iron obelisks at it’s entrance, which were not photographically pleasing. We did some more searching on the interweb, and headed back to the carpark to start again, but spotted them whilst we were on the way. Apparently “the sculpture really comes into its own at night, when the light boxes illuminate the eyes on the faces.” ~ Tony Campbell, managing director of Creative Glass. Might be easier to find as well!
We then went off to Doxford Business Park on the outskirts of Sunderland, to track down two artworks, Quintisection by Robert Erskine was the first. It’s a large, polished stainless steel sculpture based on the cross-section of a ship.
We couldn’t find the other one in spite of driving and walking around the park, so that will have to be tracked down on another day.
Our last art work isn’t on the Art UK site, but Sophie had spotted it whilst walking to work at the university. There isn’t any information about it, it’s just appeared without fanfare in the garden area of the art department there, so Sophie thinks maybe it’s a student thing. The plinth is permanent, but the statue is new. It is quite powerful, it would be good to know the thoughts behind it, but then again, you can have your own.
All pictures embiggenable with a click!
And that, dear reader, is that. Stay tooned for whatever comes next!