North East Art Trail 3 ~ Ray Lonsdale edition

Ray Lonsdale is a steel fabricator from Durham, and in 2002 began using steel for his sculptures. There are many of these sculptures dotted around the North East, I think at least 20. They are quite emotionally engaging, and fascinating to see up close and in their environment. I plotted a fair few on Google maps, and a couple of weeks ago Sophie and I set off to find some of them. I took the Contax with rolls of Cinestill 400T and Dubble Treat (which I didn’t much like the results of so converted them to Black and White mostly), and also my Fuji X100F, so there’s a combination of film and digital shots.

We started out with ‘Not Much to Ask’ a sculpt of a 1st World War soldier, situated in front of Aged Miners Homes in West Cornforth. The plinth he is standing on has all the names of the chaps from Cornforth who died in the war engraved on it.

Fuji X100F
contax + dubble treat
fuji X100F

Next on our list was ‘The Last Shift’, set in Wheatley Hill Cemetary in County Durham, and alluding to the closure of the Wheatley Hill Colliery.

contax + dubble treat
fuji X100F

Also at Wheatley Hill is the ‘Bonny Pit Lad’, a tribute to the young men who worked in the colliery.

contax + cinestill
fuji X100F
fuji X100F

Our next sculpture is The Durham Angel, one of Mr.Lonsdale’s earliest works,and could be found overlooking a pond in Horn’s Garden Centre in Shotton where it arrived in 2004. This was also where we had a very nice lunch of cheese & ham panini’s! Most of the statues come with a little poignant poem attached, but I couldn’t see it here to photograph. This one reads:-

‘Horns’ ( Durham Angel)
Do you live a good life that’s Hard to bear, for wings?
Or take the easy route and get a monkey for your sins?
The dilemma of what to wear on your back.

Contax + Cinestill
Contax + cinestill

After Lunch we went to see ‘Relative Treats’ a life size sculpture of grandmother and granddaughter in South Hetton welfare park in Horden.

contax + cinestill
Contax + cinestill
fuji X100F

We then toddled off to see ‘Da said ”men don’t cry” ‘ at Hetton-le-Hole. There’s a plaque on the plinth that reads ‘Hetton Mining Heritage Statue. Remember where we came from. Life was very hard for this young child sent off by his father for his first shift at the pit. This statue is a tribute and a reminder of the hard life and sacrifice of all the men, women and children who built our coal mining community’.

fuji X100F
fuji X100F
contax + cinestill

Mr. Lonsdale’s workshop is just up the road from that statue in South Hetton and though it wasn’t open being a Sunday, we got a shot through the fence of this chap stood in the yard, which I think maybe is a work in progress, but am not sure.

contax + cinestill

Our last one for the day is also in South Hetton and called ‘And the Village Remains:The Last Tub’ and it stands next to a huge Mural on the wall of the Council offices.

contax + cinestill
contax + cinestill
fuji X100F

And here is a map I made with all the locations that are in travelling distance for Sophie and I. There are some in Yorkshire too but too far for a day trip for us. We’ll be doing another set at some point though!

Ray’s website HERE

Ray’s Facebook HERE

So that’s it for this week, but

for wherever we go next time.

📷 🎞️ 😊

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.

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!


The Weebles are a collection of 22 life size bronze sculptures by Spanish artist Juan Munoz (1953-2001) and as a whole the sculture is called “The Conversation”, although the locals here have nicknamed the sculptures “the Weebles” after a 70’s toy Weeble, the advertisisng catchphrase being ‘weebles wobble but they don’t fall down’.  Consequently most people visiting the sculpture give them a push to see if they do wobble, but as they weigh about a 1/4 of a tonne, they don’t move!


The figures are all in different poses, some in groups




and some seemingly on the way to somewhere..



and when wandering into their presence you almost feel like you could shake hands, have a good old natter and put the world to rights.






Juan Munoz did various other sculptures of conversations all over the world, and you can check them out here.