A little break from history and people. Stockton -on- Tees, not a name to conjure up images of steamy jungles or cocktails on the river boat. But Sophie and I know Stockton has an amazing huge glass building full of exotic blooms, plants and butterflies we just don’t see over here in the outside world. The chap who started it collected them from all over the world, and now they just perpetuate in Stockton, their ancestry is diverse, but these are many generations on so have British passports. 😀 😀
No funny captions, just some pretties to look at, so have a cuppa tea, (wine/whisky/etc) de-stress (Pete, Gary 😀 )and join me in tropical Stockton.
there, don’t you feel all lovely now? I always feel uplifted just looking at and thinking about the beauty of nature so I hope you did too. All are embiggenable with a little click.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Botanical Gardens are surrounded by native woodlands, (as opposed to tourist woodlands? ) and when we were there the woods were absolutely carpeted with millions, or at least very many, bluebells. After doing the garden, and having lunch we went to photograph them. Might have gone a bit OTT. 🙂 So here I’m going to have a bluebell~fest if you get bored just move along 🙂
Well you get the idea:). After that, we went back to the car. Now, regular readers who read Part 1 will know we had to hand our registration number in to the desk at the Gardens, so they could let the car park people know, and thereby prevent a nasty parking fine. When we got back to the car guess what? A nasty parking fine stuck to my window. I was enraged dear reader! Sophie went and found the carpark man who put the ticket on the car (I didn’t dare approach him as I had violent urges) and when she came back she told me – “He says it often happens that the Garden people don’t send the information through quickly enough.” We would have understood that IF he hadn’t then gone on to say “I saw youse park up and head off without paying at the machine which is why I ticketed the car”!!! So basically he hadn’t bothered to wait for information from the Gardens and ticketed us before we had a chance to get in there! I was pretty apoplectic by now. We had to walk back to the gardens, get hold of one of the 3 staff there who were trying to deal with a long queue of people’s lunches and entry fees, get them to ring the carpark head office, and have the ticket nullified. This all took for bloody ever of course so not the best ending to our trip there.
So be warned if you are intending to visit, the Gardens own car park is very small, maybe 20 cars at a push, so the public one on the other side of the garden is where to park. Put a BIG note on the dashboard saying you’ve gone into the gardens, so the nitwit cockwomble jobsworth leaves you alone.
At the beginning of May, Sophie and I went off to the Botanical Gardens at Durham University. I can’t say Durham is my favourite place to drive through (which you have to do to get to the gardens) as it’s olde worlde charm rapidly disappears when you have to navigate traffic bottlenecks on tiny roads on busy days. But we got to the gardens without too much stress and we were lucky enough to have a sunny day. There’s a large carpark near to the back entrance and a notice in it telling visitors to the gardens that the car park is free if they give their registration number to the garden’s pay desk, which I did. It cost £4 to get into the gardens.
The gardens are set in 10 hectares (which is 25 acres, not sure about feet/meters etc 🙂 ) of mature woodlands, and was opened by Dame Margot Fonteyn for reasons unbeknownst to me in 1970. I would have gone for Alan Titchmarsh meself 😀
After we paid our entrance fee we started out surrounded by magnificent tulips, they looked glorious in the sunshine.
loved the serrated edges on these next ones
and the blobs of purple on these
the first bit we visited was a big greenhouse thingy (called a glasshouse I believe) where they had exotic plants, cactii or cactuses (whatever) and the place was hot and humid. There was a button you could press that made a fine mist cover everything and everyone, which I pressed a couple of times soaking the family who was ahead of us while I hid behind a cheeseplant 😀 (note to self- grow up!).
There was also a pond in the glass house which was full of fish.
There was another pond with a huge lily pad on it, but sadly no lilies were out yet
It did have a crocodile head in it though so that was the consolation prize.
There were some lovely orchids in the glasshouse too
This little chap was in a glasshouse all on his own
but he had plenty to eat…
That’ll do for today, but stay tooned for when we visit the grounds and have a wander about.
all pictures can be embiggened by the flick of click 🙂
Of course, a garden isn’t really a garden without flowers. At the top of the central water cascade is where they’re all at, in a walled-off courtyard. Plenty of tulips in bloom in April of course, all gloriously coloured, such happy flowers to see after a long grey winter.
After crossing the bridge we walked steadily down towards the burn (stream) and along the way I turned my lens on the little things along the way
But also took some of the obviously very old trees
On the way we came near to a road and could see this lovely building from it
Rowland Burdon III, a merchant banker, purchased the manor of Castle Eden in 1758, and in about 1765, with the assistance of architect William Newton, built the house which came to be known as The Castle. The house has three storeys and a seven-bay entrance front. The central three bays are canted and the whole carries a castellated parapet. Last October it was put up for sale for £3 million, some pictures of the interior are at THIS LINK, if anyone’s interested it’s still up for grabs! 🙂
The whole of the dene was covered in wild garlic plants, I bet it smells great when they all bloom!
That’s the end of the tour, though there’s a full album, which can be foundHERE
All photo’s can be clicked on to embiggen so you can marvel at their wondrousness 🤣
Stay tooned for our next outing, back to Beamish Museum to see WW1 themed vehicles and horses.
Last weekend Sophie and I managed a day out at Castle Eden Dene, it stayed dry and it wasn’t too cold which was enough for us to get out and about. Spring hadn’t quite arrived, but some flowers were popping up, and there were plenty of mosses and lichens for my new lens to have a look at.
The Dene itself is the largest, and biologically the richest, of a series of deep ravines that have been incised by streams flowing into the North Sea through the Magnesian Limestone and overlying boulder clay of coastal Durham. It is the largest area of semi-natural woodland in north-east England and, because the steep valley sides are mostly inaccessible, it has suffered relatively little from human interference. Over 450 species of plants have been recorded in the wood, many of which are typical of ancient woodlands that date back to pre-medieval times.
It didn’t really look very inviting as we set off along the path
but I put my new macro lens to good use, discovering the little things you don’t normally see when just walking on by
Catkins are a sure sign Spring is on the way..
Goat Willow catkins have separate male and female trees. Male catkins are clad in golden stamens; female catkins are spiky and green. Both secrete nectar – key energy for bees and butterflies in early spring.
We walked up a main pathway to start with, and to the right of us people’s gardens were on the opposite side of a big fence, but bits and bobs poked through it here and there..
we turned off the main path onto a track that led through the woodlands and found our way to Gunners Pool bridge. The bridge is one of sixteen that cross the Castle Eden Burn. It was fabricated in Hartlepool in the late 19th century for the Rev. John Burdon, whose family owned Castle Eden Dene, and is thought to have been erected in June 1877.
It was quite vertiginious and I was glad to get to the other side
Although Autumn was just about over, and the temperature wasn’t that great, Sophie and I decided to wrap up warm and go for a walk around the Rising Sun Country park. There’s 162 hectares of nature reserve with ponds, woodlands and extensive grasslands; a farm and Countryside Centre, so we figured there’d be enough to point our cameras at. No history lessons today, just a gentle walk to see what Mother Nature leaves for us when summer is over.
half way round and there we’ll stop and have a rest, before continuing further afield, stay tooned 🙂