North East Art Trail ~ 02

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.

Cleves Cross

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.

Sir Roger and the boar.

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.

No light left.
    The circular brick base has decorative paving, featuring the 12 yellow stars of Europe.
    On each side of the base is a rectangular, etched granite panel with images of a wild boar, a sunrise, a miner and pit pony and rail tracks.
    The centre of the arch contains a fibreglass relief of a miner inserted into the skeleton of the old town hall clock.

    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!

    The Past We Inherit.
    The Future we Build.

    Not listed on Art UK, but in the same park as the Past and Future, there was this..

    see you later…

    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.

    The column is surmounted by a depiction of a pit wheel with a tiny figure of a miner standing before it.
    running down the length of the timber, the coalmine’s shaft is shown to the same scale as the figure, with the eight coal seams worked during the mine’s long history crossing horizontally, their individual names and depths alongside, giving the viewer an inkling of just how far below ground these men worked.

    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.

    A curved ‘hull’ is set on either side of three ‘boxed ribs’.
    This piece was awarded ‘Best Sculpture outside London’ by the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1995, needs a bit of TLC now though.

    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.

    Unknown artist.

    All pictures embiggenable with a click!

    And that, dear reader, is that. Stay tooned for whatever comes next!

    📷 😊

    North East Art Trail ~ 01

    Sophie and I recently discovered a website showing all the works of art in the country, which is pretty amazing really, and we decided to use that as a basis for some of our days out. We filtered our search for North East England and refined it for outdoor artwork only, and found there are 844 items in the area, which in theory would last way beyond our needs. Some of the art works are war memorials and such like, market crosses etc and we are not too bothered about those, but there are some cool quirky things too and those are the ones we’ll be hunting down.

    Our first trail was around Killingworth and Cramlington area. I plotted the artwork positions on a map, and off we went to photograph them on a lovely warm, sunny day, not too hot but just right.

    Our first was ‘Sundial’ (which it is) by Graham Robinson, the artist, and  Anthony Walker & partners landscapers and set in the West Allotment Country Park at Shiremoor (which is not in The Hobbit or consequent books). The pictures of it shown on the website are not that nice, it’s all rusty, grass is growing between the paving slabs and it looks uncared for, but when we got there it was all spruced up. The blurb says “A sundial with face consisting of paving slabs in a variety of shades with iron numbers around a central disk with a sun motif. The gnomon is a large, slanting slab of rusted iron with relief designs of natural forms imprinted on either side. The sundial is sited at the summit of a modern, artificial hill, the highest point in North Tyneside.” A gnomon is not a character from Warhammer 4K, but is the part of the sundial that makes the shadow.

    We parked up and followed the signs and first came to a newly made area where you can sit and reflect about Covid 🙄

    the 3 R’s

    this gentleman and his dog were definitely relaxed and I could see signs of fishing equipment.

    gone fishin’

    You climb a circular path up a hill or use some wooden steps to get to the sundial, and I chose the circular path. A horse wearing a diamante tiara on it’s forehead passed us by, wish I’d got a frontal shot!

    Princess Horse

    Nice to see wildflowers and lots of insects along the way.

    thistle and Burnet Moth

    and then we got to the sundial

    ? clay pressings of nature stuff by little people.

    Our next artwork is the Blue Ladies by an unknown artist. Set in a business park of all places.
    According to the blurb “A series of life-sized classical nude female dancing figures. Material is draped around their lower body, held close by their right hands and behind their heads in their left hands. The figures are painted bright blue with gold spots.” Although I don’t count 2 figures as a series.

    Blue Ladies

    Onwards then to Killingworth. There were supposedly 4 artworks here, but try as we might we could only find 2 of them. The first was the Blucher Automotive by Charles Sansbury (1916-1989) at Southgate, on the roundabout at the shopping centre there.
    The Blurb:- An abstract representation of the Blücher locomotive, the first locomotive built by George Stephenson in 1814. It could pull a train of 30 tonnes at a speed of four miles per hour up a gradient of one in 450. The artwork was originally erected in Killingworth town centre in 1971, next to the ‘Puffing Billy’ pub. However, when the pub was demolished the sculpture was dismantled and stored at the Stephenson Railway Museum. With the aid of Heritage Lottery funding, Killingworth Local History Society restored the sculpture to mark the 200th anniversary of the building of the locomotive, which first ran on the Killingworth wagonway on the 25th July, 1814. It was named after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who, after a speedy march, arrived in time to help defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.


    Hippos is an artwork by Stan Bonner, situated at Garth 22 in Killingworth. Garth is not a country & western singer but “an enclosed quadrangle or yard, especially one surrounded by a cloister (Middle English; Old Norse garþr, garðr; akin to Anglo-Saxon geard)”, however in Killingworth it means a cul-de-sac.
    The blurb on this one is short and sweet:- “A group of four concrete, pygmy-sized hippos stood on an open paved area”.


    After the hippos we stopped at the lake there to watch the synchronised swimming practice.

    bottoms up

    It was nice to see they’d made a wildflower place instead of the muddy bird poop area that was there the last time we visited.

    After this we toddled up to Burradon to shoot the Colliery Memorial ~ artist unknown.
    The Blurb ~ “A monument made from an old colliery wheel and truck to commemotate those who lost their lives in an explosion at Burradon Colliery on March 2, 1860, which tragically killed 76 men and boys, some as young as 10 years old.

    Colliery Memorial

    Our last stop before lunch was at Cramlington Hospital which has the Helping Hands sculpture by Cate Watkinson and Collin Rennie.
    The Blurb ~ “Three curve-shaped panels representing healing hands set at equal, 120 degree angles to each other, which can be viewed from all sides. The hands are raised in a supplicant manner as if protecting a central space where help can be found”. Hmmm.

    you need hands.

    So that’s our first Art trail done, and hopefully there’ll be more to come! Stay tooned for wherever we end up next time!

    All pictures embiggenable with a click.

    If you fancy seeing which artworks are in your area HERE is the website.

    Newcastle ~September 2019 ~ Elmer edition

    St.Oswalds Hospice in Newcastle cares for both adults, children and babies who have terminal illnesses.  It is a registered charitable trust, and whilst the NHS regulates it, it does not fund it. The childrens hospice has to raise over £7.5 million each year to keep its doors open and its service free to those who need it, and relies a fair bit on volunteers, (who’s equivalent salary comes to around £180 million a year, if they were paid minimum contract wages). It is well run and very well thought of by those who have been unfortunate enough to need its services.

    This year the Childrens Hospice organised an art trail, to raise money for the kids unit. Based on Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, a childrens book written and illustrated by David McKee.  From 21st August to 1st November 2019 an art trail featuring individually designed elephant sculptures based on the Elmer character happens across Tyne & Wear.  50 large by recognised North East artists, and 114 little sculptures by school children. There’s an app (of course there’s an an app! 😀 ) to download the trail and at the end of the time period the elephant sculptures are auctioned off.

    I had no inclination to go charging around Tyne & Wear doing the trail, but it is fun coming across them on outings, and there were a few in Newcastle when we went. I took some pictures of them 🙂

    “Jumble” by Valerie Smith-Lane a tattoo artist in Newcastle.

    “‘Jumble’ illustrates that no matter what, we are all made up of an assortment of things and that so many entities influence who we are. Our thoughts, behaviours and appearance are formed by our ancestors, heritage, culture, society, surroundings and people’s influences on us. Collaboration and equality can result in an outstanding outcome.”

    “Are We Nelly Home” by Zoe Emma Scott a self-taught artist who specialises in painting North East landmarks.

    From the left:- Pure by St Anne’s Catholic School, Gateshead. Trunk by George Washington Primary School, Washington. Reach for the Stars by St Mary’s RC Primary School, Newcastle. Everyone’s a winner by Bede Community Primary School, Gateshead.

    Uno by Crookhill Community Primary School, Ryton.

    “Our design was inspired by our school values of respect and equality. We encourage children to respect others and be confident in who they are – just like Elmer. We believe everyone is equal no matter what they look like and we wanted our Elmer to reflect this. Our motto is ‘Working together, we succeed,’ so everyone worked together to produce a unique design embodying self-confidence and individuality”.

    Uno with Kintsugi by Roman Road Primary School, Gateshead.

    “Our design was inspired by our whole school’s well-being and work on mental health. The Japanese have an old philosophy that ‘nothing is ever truly broken’. This ancient art of ‘Kintsugi’ repairs smashed pottery with gold. As people, we sometimes feel broken or in pieces but like our Elmer, with support, we can be restored.”

    ORBIT by Jim Edwards

    Jim Edwards is best known for his contemporary cityscape and landscape painting, capturing the iconic locations of the North East.  ‘Orbit’s’ surface is covered in the familiar patchwork of land masses that represent the planet Earth. The tiny International Space station circumnavigates the elephants body, catching the attention of Orbit, like an insect passing by his trunk.


    Disco Wilbur by Natalie Guy

    Natalie Guy is a contemporary mosaic artist using a wide range of materials including diamonds, hex nuts, jigsaw pieces and mirror tiles. Disco Wilbur is based on the Wilbur character who appears alongside Elmer in David McKee’s book series and is created using thousands of pieces of mirror tiles.

    He’s my favourite of course 🙂

    On the trail.

    The auction raised £182,200


    Stay tooned for more from Newcastle.

    The Art of Newcastle_ Part 5 ~ The Laing

    The Laing Art Gallery was founded in 1901 by a Newcastle Businessman, Alexander Laing, who’d made a fortune from his wine and spirit shop and beer bottling business. And that was that. He didn’t put any paintings or other artworks into it and said he was confident “…that by the liberality of the inhabitants {of Newcastle} it would soon be supplied with pictures and statuary for the encouragement and development of British Art”.

    And so it was. It is now home to an internationally important collection of art focusing on British oil painting watercolours, ceramics, silver, and glassware.  As well as regularly changing exhibitions of historic, modern and contemporary art.  The ground floor is home to the Northern Spirit gallery which displays outstanding artwork and objects produced locally by people including Thomas Bewick, Ralph Hedley, and John Martin. You can also see Newcastle silver, glass and ceramics on show. Also on the ground floor is a beautiful Marble Hall, which is occupied by artworks by Henry Moore and Turner Prize nominee Paul Noble.

    Upstairs is the 18th and 19th-century display, including internationally important paintings by John Martin, Paul Gauguin, and Burne-Jones. This is also where William Holman-Hunt’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Isabella and the Pot of Basil is displayed.

    The exhibitions you pay to get in, but the rest is free. They had a photography exhibition the day we went which was exciting to us for 1 minute until we saw it was ‘celebrities in the nude’. As the advertising image for the exhibition was of Mick Jagger, we decided not to. I know, we should have, but really, I don’t want to see old men’s dangly bits for free, let alone pay to do so!

    Anyway, on with some works of art, some of which I can tell you the artist name and some I can’t!

    This one appealed to me, I loved the TV Ariel and how the iron is steaming away whilst she’s either picking up beads or making a pattern with them (not sure).

    The Ruins of a Northumbrian Keep by Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917)

    I can’t remember who did it, and I couldn’t get a decent shot of it, but I really loved this cat

    This wood carving thingy was just amazing

    A ginormous panorama of Tyne Docks covered one wall

    The Bard, by John Martin (1789-1894) was gorgeous close-up, if you’re on a mobile then you won’t really see the great details, but for those on a PC give it a click.

    Inspired by a poem, with the same name, written by Thomas Gray in 1755. In the poem, Gray narrates the story of King Edward I of England and his conquest of Wales in the late 13th century. Following his victory over the Welsh Edward decided that all the bards, the professional poets, could be dangerous if they were allowed to spread the story of the bygone power of the Welsh people as this may incite the defeated Welsh to rise up against their English masters. Edward ordered the Bards to be slaughtered and the painting depicts the fate of the last surviving bard who has been chased by Edward’s troops and who has climbed a precipice above a swirling river. He stands aloft cursing the English troops, who have left their castle, and are in pursuit of their quarry. The castle, based on the one at Harlech, we see perched on rocks in the left middle-ground. In the left foreground, we see Edward’s riders with banners unfurled as they rush along the valley side like a swarm of ants. On the top of the cliff on the opposite side of the fast flowing river, we observe the bard, cursing his pursuers before throwing himself off the ledge and plunging to his death.

    Isabella and the Pot of Basil. A strange tale, but lovely painting.

    Isabella and the Pot of Basil is a painting completed in 1868 by William Holman Hunt depicting a scene from John Keats’s poem Isabella, or the Pot of Basil. It depicts the heroine Isabella caressing the basil pot in which she had buried the severed head of her murdered lover Lorenzo. Hunt had drawn an illustration to the poem in 1848, shortly after the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but he had not developed it into a completed painting.  Hunt returned to the poem in 1866, shortly after his marriage, when he began to paint several erotically charged subjects. His sensuous painting Il Dolce Far Niente had sold quickly, and he conceived the idea for a new work depicting Isabella. Having traveled with his pregnant wife Fanny to Italy, Hunt began work on the painting in Florence. However, after giving birth, Fanny died from fever in December 1866. Hunt turned the painting into a memorial to his wife, using her features for Isabella. He worked on it steadily in the months after her death, returning to England in 1867, and finally completing it in January 1868.

    I also really liked Love in Idleness by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

    Love in Idleness is an old name for the pansy flower. The artist is suggesting that the young women in the portrait are as beautiful as flowers. He also links loveliness to love. Roses, which are symbols of love, carry on the theme. Alma-Tadema’s paintings of beautiful young women in convincing Roman-style settings were very popular in the late-19th century. The realistic detail of his pictures was based on Roman wall paintings and sculpture. He saw Roman works of art in 1863 during visits to the ruined cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in Italy.

    The Laing has a very nice cafe

    And we’ll finish up with some very strange but quirky and fascinating wallpaper in the hallway.

    and that’s the end of our hunt for art!

    All pictures are clickembiggenable,

    and a full album can be found HERE

    The Art of Newcastle ~Jan 2019 ~ part 4

    After lunch in the Biscuit Factorywe went off to see the Laing Art Gallery. On the way, we came across a little church hall

    and as you can see from the sign on the right (which I completely missed in the photo!) had an art exhibition. Well, we came for art, so decided to do a detour and see what was going on. It turned out to be a one-woman exhibition by one of the church’s congregation.

    and this was the artist

    Sarah Ann Davies

    Her arty bits were interesting, with lots of cut and folded canvasses

    but I don’t think I’d have them on my wall. The artist lady was very nice and chatty so we wished her luck and went on our merry way.

    We spotted a Lutheran Church for German-speaking Geordies

    and back by the blue student accommodation, this time sneaking a peek in the windows

    rainbow girl

    There are a couple of furniture shops in the area.

    😳 imagine waking up to all this bling!!!

    Beds for children of insane parents. 🙂

    Newcastle has its own version of Boris Bikes

    and plenty of cafes

    Channeling J.K.Rowling?

    We went back over the flyover and spotted a breakdown

    Not the best place to park.

    and we peeked through the bars of the graffiti building corridor which is my featured image at the top of the post.


    The New Bridge Hotel nearby. Probably not a 4 star 🙂

    Grim up north.

    and then we got to the Laing gallery, but that can wait for the next post, so stay tooned for that!


    The Art of Newcastle ~ The Biscuit Factory ~ Part 2 ~ Jan 2019

    Still looking around in the Biscuit Factory, these are the things that caught my eye and that I liked.

    Born in 1957 Rob van Hoek is a professional Dutch artist who has exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the Netherlands, UK, Denmark and France. Rob is inspired by landscape, especially cultivated landscapes.

    Pratima’s love of art has been lifelong even though she originally trained as a scientist. Pratima started studying at various universities through their open study programmes and started making art, primarily in mixed media. Through her ongoing experimentation she has developed a personalised style of creating distinctive forms of composition, harmony and mood. The artefacts that frequently appear in her work are collected during her frequent travels throughout India, as she tries to encapsulate all aspects of the country including the magnificent sculptures, stunning textures, vibrant colours and vitality of the subjects.

    I liked this chess table, though not sure how comfortable the spine~chairs would be!

    Creations in wood by David Lightly & Ross Purves, otherwise known as The Wood Neuk

    Zoe Robinson studied an MA in Fine Art in Northumbria University in 1999. For the past ten years she has been teaching drawing and sculpture. Zoe’s current work is animal studies with wire and mixed media. 


    Phil McMenemy is a photographer based in Dumfries, Scotland. Originally from Barrow-in-Furness, Phil has worked in Engineering and as a Mental Health Nurse working with children but now is forging a successful career as an artist and gallery owner in south-west Scotland.

    Malcolm Lewis is a self-taught decorative artist, designer and sculptor from Newcastle. With a free-spirited, creative flair, which he developed from a young age, Malcolm draws inspiration from organic matter and living creatures in order to design and create his quirky pieces that are truly one of a kind.  (Legs by Sophie and myself.)

    Phil McLoughlin was a successful artist (as Phil Barker) in the 1970s, winning the prestigious Pernod Prize at the Royal Scottish Academy (1974) and two years later becoming a founder member of the Dundee Group (Artists), which included Jack Knox, Grant Clifford and Jack Morocco. In 1980 he began his doctoral studies and when commissioned to write his first book he decided to exchange art for a career in academia. By 1990 Dr Barker was Director of Studies at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Dundee and spent the next 20 years as a professor and psychotherapist in universities in England, Japan, Australia and Ireland, becoming one of the world’s leading authorities on mental health recovery. He returned to art in 2010 as McLoughlin – taking the name of his grandfather who had first encouraged his interest in art.


    another three I can’t find the name of,

    Loved these cheery little timepieces.

    Mrs.Woods doing her hair.

    My fave bird.


    The doors to all the rooms in the gallery, all had handprints on them and you just had to use them!

    Hacksaw and towel please.

    Well that’s a smattering of the good stuff at The Biscuit Factory, but we’ll move along next time and find more arty farty stuff!

    Stay tooned folks!

    The Art of Newcastle ~ The Biscuit Factory ~ Jan 2019

      The UK’s largest independent commercial art, craft & design gallery set in the heart of Newcastle’s cultural quarter

    A commercial art gallery, café, and restaurant converted from a former biscuit factory which was operated by the Gibson family between 1860 and 1870. It has four floors, two of which were submerged when the street level was raised and these now serve as basement studios which are available for artists to rent.

    The gallery has everything, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, and jewelry!  So much to see.

    As you walk in the space is clean and airy and nicely set out with groups of ceramics, pottery etc.

    Pieces complement each other in their settings, so Jane Walkers print goes nicely with Alan Balls ceramics.

    I am not really a fan of ‘modern art’ or rather I wasn’t! I did like this by Trevor Price.

    Trevor Price born in 1966 specialises in drypoints and etchings, handmade and printed by the artist from his studios in St. Ives and Bermondsey, south London. He is a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (since 1992) and the Vice President 2013 – 2018.

    I also loved the sculptures by Peter Sales.  I wanted this Ostrich for my garden!

    Peter Sales lives and works in County Durham, UK. His sculptural work predominately represents animals, fish, and birds, and celebrates the incongruity of nature. He aims to imbue a feeling of movement and a sense of frailty and vulnerability, which brings his pieces to life. Peter’s sculptures have a unique style and strike a balance between realism and humour. They are constructed from reclaimed steel and sheet metals, and he achieves their vibrant colours using car spray paint and thick lacquer.

    There were a few of his pieces around, I’d have had them all!

    These made me smile by Susan O’Byrne

    Susan O’Byrne was born and grew up in Cork, Ireland. In 1991 she received a Certificate with Merit from the Grennan Mill Craft School in Co. Kilkenny. From there she moved to Scotland and the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 1999 with a First Class Honours Degree in Design and Applied Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma in Ceramics in 2000.

    Apologies for not getting this artists name, really should take notes!!

    I liked the beauty and simplicity of this wooden bowl by Jane Crisp

    Jane works from home in a studio and workshop surrounded by beautiful countryside in Hale Fen, Cambridgeshire. Jane loves the qualities of natural materials like wool, wood, copper and brass and experiments with the mythologies of making amplifying traditional techniques in a contemporary way.

    The gallery gives space to the sculptures so you can look all around them without knocking anything over (which is always a risk with me fat bum and camera backpack!)

    Portrait of a Diva by Christy Keeny

    The gallery runs an interest-free loan scheme which I think brilliant as it means art is affordable and the artists don’t have to encheapen themselves to make a living.

    That’s it for today, but still more art to come so stay tooned!

    Cheeseburn Sculpture Park ~ part 3

    On to the main event following on from part 2 HERE

    the reason Sophie & I went to the park in the first place was to see big shiny things, by a gentleman called Qi Yafeng.  I can’t find a website for him, maybe not allowed one in China. Anyway he’s done quite a lot of stuff, and these were his latest pieces.

    The big, shiny pieces did not disappoint, they were mesmerising, you couldn’t help seeing yourself stretched thin or shortened fat, curved, wobbly, and sometimes not even there! Just like being in the house of mirrors at a funfair but with just one piece of kit. 2 large pieces in the grounds, and several in the indoor spaces.  There was also a video showing the process of making them, with some lady playing really cool twangly music in the Hong Kong studio where it was all happening. It was hard to think of them as stainless steel; the mirror finish was so perfect. What was also cool was Mr. Yafeng was in attendance, he stayed back near the trees on the edge of the lawn and took photos of people interacting with the sculpture and took photos of us taking photos!  I wish I’d said hello, but wasn’t sure if a) he spoke English, as I don’t speak Chinese, and b) what would I say? “Hi, I really like your big shiny things?”

    All the works were entitled Big Shi… oops 🙂 they were entitled In Each Phase, with a number after them as in In Each Phase 1, In Each Phase 2 etc.

    Big Shiny Thing 1


    Big Shiny Thing 1


    Big Shiney Thing 2 was my favourite as it looked different from different perspectives, and the reflections were weird.




    that guy really has a knotted hanky on his head.


    So very impressive and gorgeous especially in the sunshine.  But my very favourite of all is one that wasn’t on the map of where to find the sculptures, nor on the list of what all the sculptures were.  Whilst walking around the grounds on the trail of all the sculptures, we veered off down towards the river to see if there was any stuff to photograph, just at the same time the chap in charge came along to lock the gate that you would go through to get to it,  “Ah” said he, “I see you’ve found the secret one”.  And off he went again, and when we looked over the fence we saw

    also by Qi Yafeng.  I have no idea why it wasn’t listed or on the trail, but it was cool to find it and I think it’s quite beautiful sitting there in the river.

    There were also some smaller versions of his pieces in different parts of the stables areas, so I’ll finish with a couple pictures of those.



    all pictures are embiggenable when you click on them.

    More gorgeous artworks from the day can be seen HERE


    Cheeseburn Sculpture Park ~ June 2018~ part 2

    Following on from part 1 HERE

    The gardens at Cheeseburn Grange are quite lovely

    and a perfect place for delicate glass sculptures

    Can’t remember who did that sorry!!

    Laura Johnston  thrilled us with these beautiful glassworks in the woods

    click to embiggen for the full effect

    I loved how the colors reflected onto the woodland path


    Simon Hitchins

    combined the rough texture of rocks with smooth shiny mirrors

    “In The Eye of the Beholder”


    “The Other Eye” (with added appreciators)


    On one of the walls in the grounds we came across these,


    by Louise Plant

    they reminded me of what I used to call ‘Jacks’ when I was a kid, can’t remember what you did with them though 🙂


    Ending & Beginning ~ Luke Dickinson


    “Fallen Arch”. ( 🤣🙄) ~ Ekkehard Altenburger


    “The Earth” by Andrew Burton.  Mr. Burton did some of my favourite pieces back in part 1, his vessels series, but I was not really impressed with this….


    “The Earth” ~ Andrew Burton

    but the more I look at it and think about it, the more I like what he’s done.

    Anyhoo that’s enough for now, can’t be having y’all bored witless, still more artwork to come, when next time I get to the main event!

    Stay tooned peeps!

    Cheeseburn Sculpture Gardens~June 2018

    Sophie and I decided to take photographs at Cheeseburn Grange, where they have open weekends a few times a year and the public can come along and wander the beautiful grounds and see the sculptures therein.  I told Clare over at The Mermaids Purse I was going and she asked me to write a report for her blog, “of course!” I blithely replied and she published it a little while ago. I’m rehashing it a bit for my own blog and posting it in the chronological order in the time-space continuum herein. 🙂

    I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to sculpture and I told Sophie that I was going to write this review for Clare so had to try and work out what the artist is thinking or telling us. “It doesn’t matter what the artist feels,” she said, “it’s what we feel when we see it that matters”, Sophie is a Professor of Psychology so I’m going with that!

    Firstly, if I WAS an artist/sculptor, Cheeseburn Grange would be where I’d want my pieces to be plonked. Owned by the Riddle family since 1752, back in the 1200’s it was a farm belonging to an Augustinian priory and has been remodeled several times to date.

    That has a big electric bill I bet.

    Secondly, the reason we went in the first place, was to see an exhibition by Chinese artist Qi Yafeng, who, according to the website was installing big shiny sculptures, and that’s like a red rag to a bull for Sophie and me, a historic house AND photography reflections!!  So, we were not expecting the diversity and scope of the sculptures that were on site. 34 artists and 59 sculptures in all.

    Before we set off around the grounds, we visited the chapel of St. Francis Xavier, designed by John Dobson and built in 1820. Here we saw an old piece of art, The Descent of Our Saviour from the Cross”, painted in 1824 by the Flemish artist J.S. Verillin.  It is a copy of the central panel of Rubens’ triptych which lies in Antwerp Cathedral.  Old school I know, but I do so love oil paintings, especially the old Masters, and seeing how the artist works the light and shade into the colours.

    Opposite was our first ‘new’ ish art, a piece called Earl Grey by Simon Watkinson 

    Made in 2004 with 3D scanning and CNC cutting and in response to when Earl Grey’s head was knocked off his statue by lightning in 1942. (Sorry Earl, I laughed :/ )The heads seek to remind people of the face of the man stood at the top of the monument in Newcastle City Centre.

    Heads Up.. or down.

    After the chapel, we set off on our walk around the grounds. It was an achingly beautiful day, with a cloudless azure sky and it felt like we were on a treasure hunt as we followed the map we’d been given on arrival, discovering beauty, interesting objects, thought-provoking sculpts and bonkers pieces.

    Andrew Burtons  ‘Vessels’ series, maybe because my second hobby is mosaic~ing, and these reminded me of that, but these did sing to me! I loved his little bits of colour amongst the terracotta, and the blue & black glass ‘Light Vessel” was a beacon of gorgeousness in the sunshine. I don’t know if they’re supposed to have deep meaning, I just felt happy looking at them and touching them. I’m a simple soul really.


    Joseph Hillier has won lots of awards and lives locally, so I’ve seen some of his work around Newcastle and the North East without knowing who they were by. He seems to mostly work with the human form, and the ones in this exhibition are solid, whereas his past stuff has holes in it.   These are titled ‘Lure’,’Origin’ & ‘Untitled’ Unfortunately we didn’t spot the second figure hiding in the woods until we were on the way back, so had not really understood that the steel mesh sculpture was the lure to that figure. Photo’s on his website show that much better.  It wasn’t easy to understand Origin until you got around the back of the figure and saw the hexamagonathing from his bottom’s point of view.

    The Lure

    The Lured. (Though I think if he keeps going there’s going to be a problem with those nettles!)


    The origin. (make of that what you will dear reader.)


    I really liked ‘Sea Cups’ by Siobahn Igoe, the colours, and textures and how she had used the shells was beautiful.


    Peter Hanmer    Is the 2017 winner of the N.E Young Sculptor of the year. This artwork was held in the potting shed, where he’d used loads of the plant pots and made lots of figures to portray ‘The Allegory of the Cave” from Plato’s ‘The Republic’.  It was quite mind~boggling, and surreal, he used the lighting  (and lack of it) really well, but not the easiest thing to photograph.


    Dan Gough had a wowzer of a sculpture further on in the grounds and one for which he won the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculpture award in 2016, called ‘Scurry’ which consists of 2000 squirrels showing the red v grey population. It’s done its job now though and you can buy the squirrels in 1,3 or 7 pairs.


    That’s a start anyway, more lovely artwork to come so stay tooned.


    Road Trip October 2017 ~ The Model Show

    After our visit to Overloon, we then headed for Veldhoven and got to the big conference centre where it’s held, and also where we stayed.  It’s an absolutely huge place with 500 rooms, mostly filled with geeky modellers 🙂 for the weekend. We’ve been here a couple of years ago so I’ve already photographed it inside and out, but it’s always fun to shoot the corridors!

    Phil had been asked to judge one of the sections of the model competition, along with a couple of other modellers.  The competition has over 2000 entries, this whole show is vast.  I took a lot of photo’s but didn’t get all 2000!  I’m posting a few of my favourites here but I’ll leave a link to the full album, there’s some great artistry  to be seen.

    the quality of the flat figures was also amazing,

    Full album of models HERE

    The long corridors of the conference are home to various artists whose work is for sale, and thinking of my pal Clare over at Monster Mermaid 

    I photographed some of the art work on display

    you can see more Here

    We had a great time at the show, met up with old pals in the bar in the evenings to have a good chat on,  and on the Monday morning, packed our bags and came home. Phil’s already booked us back in for next year, so there’ll be another road trip next October!

    Stay tooned 🙂



    Day 237~366

    The process of glass blowing is long , hot, and arduous and would take far too long to write about here, but I can heartily recommend visiting a glass blowing factory and seeing it in action if you ever get the chance.
    Glass colouring and colour marking may be obtained by the addition of colouring ions,by precipitation of nanometer sized colloides (so-called striking glasses such as “gold ruby”or red “selenium ruby”), by colored inclusions (as in milk glass and smoked glass), by light scattering (as in phase separated glass), 5) by dichroic coatings (see dichroic glass), or 6) by colored coatings.

    I went to The Alum glass blowing workshop at The Needles in the Isle of Wight, and was amazed at watching the whole process.

    Sulphur is used with Iron (Fe) and Carbon (C) to produce amber glass, the colour of which can vary from very light straw to a deep reddish-brown or even black. Under the strongly reducing conditions created by the carbon, iron polysulphides are formed and these give the required depth of colour. Which is what was used in my little glass cat that I bought there.