Tyne set for a makeover

PROPOSALS have been tabled for an ambitious public art programme to mark the importance of the River Tyne as a gateway to the region.

Tynemouth priory

PROPOSALS have been tabled for an ambitious public art programme to mark the importance of the River Tyne as a gateway to the region.

The estimated cost of the three-year programme would be around £3.25m.

A feasibility study by North and South Tyneside councils has been given a new impetus by the impact of the QE2 visit to the river.

The aims of the project would also include:

The celebration of joint working and of communities on both banks of the Tyne.

High quality public artworks which would highlight the Tyne Gateway and contribute to the regeneration of the area.

Providing new attractions which would draw people to the river.

Raising the profile nationally and internationally of the Tyne Gateway.

The project would be divided into three themes – The View Across the River, The View Out of the River to Sea and Watching the Water, which would concentrate on life on the river.

The study envisages – View Across:

A Europe-wide competition to create viewing platforms at the Stag Line site in Howard Street, North Shields, and the Ballast Hill in South Shields.

Illumination of key landmarks to reflect navigational alignments along the river.

The landscaping of Knotts Flats Bank in North Tyneside and Lawe Top in South Shields through artist/landscape designer collaboration.

View Out:

Illumination of the Tynemouth and South Shields piers.

Bringing together choirs from around the North Sea in a Harbour Songs event.

Using the empty coastguard station in the grounds of Tynemouth Castle and Priory as a research field station for artists, scientists and environmentalists.

Creating a new gateway to the historic Cliffords Fort on North Shields Fish Quay.

Watching the Water:

A live digital work based on shipping movements.

A ship spotters’ guide allowing ship tracking with web-based information.

An annual Very Small Ships Race.

Water Music – a live orchestration of ship horns along the river.

The study points out that it can be argued that the commissioning of public art at the mouth of the river goes back to Collingwood’s Monument in 1845, up to the 1999 Tyne Anew sculpture on the North Shields riverfront and the Conversation Piece sculptures on South Shields foreshore.

It is proposed that a steering group is set up including the two councils, Port of Tyne Authority, One NorthEast, Arts Council England and other bodies.

The study says the programme would add a new dimension to the mouth of the river for visitors.

Three artists were appointed to develop ideas for the project. They are Danish artist Lisa Autogena, who is working on a project to create a pair of huge concrete “sound mirrors” on either side of the Channel in Kent and France, international sculptor Richard Deacon, who has been a board member of the Baltic at Gateshead, and David Ward, former artist in residence at Durham Cathedral.

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