Gateshead artist set for sea stunt in Tynemouth

A NORTH East artist has found a quirky way to carry out his work – sitting on top of a 17ft pole in the sea for 16 hours, while the tide rises around him.

Stu Herring, of Swalwell
Stu Herring, of Swalwell

A NORTH East artist has found a quirky way to carry out his work – sitting on top of a 17ft pole in the sea for 16 hours, while the tide rises around him.

Stu Herring, of Swalwell, Gateshead, hopes to carry out his feat at King Edward’s Bay, in Tynemouth, in August.

This is the latest performance art event he has planned, following a number of unusual projects over the years.

His previous work has included him submerging himself in a tin bath for two hours while breathing through a tube, and standing still in one place for eight hours.

On one occasion, he chained himself to a block of concrete which contained the key to release him.

The 25-year-old, who has a degree and masters in fine art from Northumbria University, said: “This is a contemporary art performance.

“In the past, I have found that people have connected to the work I have done. They find it humorous and unusual.

“At the same time, if someone takes it seriously, that is fine too.

“This plan to sit on top of a pole relates to post-industrial life.

“My dad was a metal worker and a number of my family members were in the shipping industry. I’m the first person from my family to go to university and get an art degree. This performance is like a humorous apology for not being manly enough.”

He classes his work as an exploration of his understanding of existence and society. His “absurd tasks” are designed to challenge the viewers’ common perception of what is normal or ordinary.

The tin bath stunt was carried out in Holland, during the second year of his degree. He was exploring issues of isolation, a difference in cultures and aspects of sensory deprivation.

He added: “I was looking at the idea of being in a room but without all of my senses. I could not see or hear but I was present and people could watch me being there. I then started to develop that style of art performance.

“I am now in the process of preparing for the tidal stool project in Tynemouth. We will be carrying out tests on the structure of the pole to make sure it will be safe and I’m also getting advice about different types of diets.

“I will be sitting there for 16 hours. The plan is to reduce the diet down and reduce the need to go to the toilet. I would be eating limited amounts of food packed with nutrients.”

He is based at Commercial Union House, in Newcastle, and works to promote North East artists.

He said: “We are helping to support 48 other art studios in the region. Our aim is to encourage art graduates to stay and work in the North East.”

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