Last few sculptures land with a flourish
The final few sculptures in the Bord Waalk trail are being placed around Amble, and the mobile app is due for its official launch in the next few weeks.
Beach walkers may have noticed Brick Tree by artist Rodney Harris, which was installed along the cycle route at Low Hauxley before Christmas. Rod told The Ambler about his inspiration and the process he used to create the piece:
“The Tree sculpture on the coast path at Low Hauxley is hand carved from the same brick clay that was used to make bricks in Amble until the brickworks closed. It is carved before the bricks are fired while they are still soft and malleable, the bark is created using moulds from an old oak tree pressed into the brick clay surface after the form has been carved. The clay tree is then dismantled, each brick is numbered, and then fired and built.
“The coast of Northumberland was once connected to Northern Europe with a forest that was flooded around eight thousand years ago when the English Channel was created. Ancient tree stumps can still be seen on the beach along the coast. The tree sculpture is a memorial to the ancient forest that once stood there and designed to provide habitat for birds. Its location next to Hauxley Nature Reserve influenced the decision to add nesting holes for tree sparrows. Tree Sparrows are endangered and so any extension of available habitat is welcome.
“The local RSPB warden Paul Morrison helped to determine the correct size of opening and cavity to provide ideal habitat for them and possibly other small birds. Hopefully it will become home to a new colony of Tree Sparrows.”
Uplift by Jonny Mitchie is now installed on Spurreli’s roof. The piece is made from brass, and with a mix of time and the Northumbrian weather, will develop a patina.
Jonny told us: “Uplift is inspired by the acrobatic movement of terns above the Amble coastline. Terns are beautiful flyers. They flit into view, skim across the water surface and dart away, all in the blink of an eye.
“The fragmented form of the sculpture attempts to capture this motion. By breaking the design into slices, the viewer is unable to see the whole sculpture from a single viewpoint, as if the bird is only spotted for a moment before quickly changing direction.
“I was also inspired by their migration. I gave the bird a pose in which it is stoically peering off into the distance. I wanted to highlight the perilous journey terns undertake each year in order to survive.”
The next sculpture, now installed in the Turner St car park, is Recycled Terns by Diane Watson.
Diane is a north-east based environmental artist, whose work is influenced by the plastic pollution of our seas. This piece is based on Arctic Terns and their migratory patterns.
She says: “The life of a sea bird is particularly affected by the health of our oceans. It is estimated that one million birds die from plastic consumption and entanglement every year. These birds can travel around 12,000 miles, so a car park where journeys start and finish is a fitting location for the work.”
Cracked Eggs by Stuart Langley, will be placed on Horseshoe hill. The piece comprises three ‘eggs’ balanced on top of each other, reflecting the fragility of life, and the importance of inter-species support.
In addition to the new sculptures, the east window in St Cuthbert’s church, featuring St Cuthbert and his famous ‘cuddy ducks’ is included, and the Peace Sculpture in the Town Square Memorial Gardens by local blacksmith/artist Stephen Lunn is also part of the trail.
Download the app
The app will be available soon for both iOS or Android devices. It contains information about the sculptures and artists, as well as additional content from poets, sound recordists and musicians.
Poetry, music and birdsong
Bird Roads by poet Katrina Porteous features conversations with local people, words inspired by the dunes and beaches from Hauxley to the Coquet estuary, together with birdsong from wildlife recordist Geoff Sample.
A soundscape from John Kefala-Kerr called Sanctuary, draws on the connection between birdcalls and the human voice. John describes the piece as “a kind of meditation, offering bird trail walkers the opportunity to pause for fifteen minutes or so, and experience the Little Shore as an al fresco concert hall.”