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City Sculptures

If you’ve just completed our city sculptures workshop, you might be wanting to learn more about the sculptures around our city and their significance. Find out more:

Clasp

Antony Gormley

Gormley’s ‘Clasp’ is a 4.4-metre-high cast iron sculpture. It depicts two bodies holding each other and is part of the artist’s ‘Double Blockworks’ series. In this series, rectilinear blocks replace anatomy using stacking, cantilevers and propping. These techniques create a sculpture that juggles the dynamic and the stable.‌

The ‘Double Blockworks’ are a radical departure from Gormley’s normal practice of isolating a single body in space. For the artist, the doubled figures embody “matter as a continual dance of possibility between emergence and entropy”.

 

Lord Armstrong Memorial

William Hamo Thornycraft

William Armstrong was an English engineer and industrialist. He was also an eminent scientist, inventor and philanthropist. He built Cragside in Northumberland, the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. He is regarded as the inventor of modern artillery.

The position of the monument outside the Hancock Museum marks his financial support of the museum.

 

Swans in Flight

David Wynne

This is a captivating sculpture that portrays the grace and elegance of soaring swans in mid-flight. The sculpture is based on the poem The Swans of the North by Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pederson. Each swan represents a Scandinavian country, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Finland and the links between these countries and Newcastle. This is also where the pub round the corner gets it’s name.

 

River Tyne God

David Wynne

‘River Tyne God’ was inspired by the masks of eight rivers on the Strand entrance of Somerset House in London. Wynne’s meticulous attention to detail brings the sculpture to life, capturing the essence of the river’s force and vitality. “River Tyne God” serves as a powerful tribute to the river’s significance and the role it plays in the region’s identity, evoking a sense of reverence for the natural world and its elemental forces.

 

Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. Statue

Nigel Boonham

The two-metre tall bronze statue was specially commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of his visit to accept an honorary degree and was unveiled by Ambassador Andrew Young, a close friend and colleague of Dr King’s and who accompanied him to Newcastle in 1967.

The base of the statue is encircled by bronze lettering inset into Caithness paving, featuring text taken from the civil rights leader’s powerful acceptance speech in which he spoke of the ‘three urgent and grave problems’ facing the world: war, poverty and racism. It was Dr King’s last public address outside the US before he was assassinated, barely six months later.

 

Grey’s Monument

John Green and Edward Hodges Bailey

Grey’s Monument was built in 1938 in recognition of Earl Grey (then Prime Minister) and his work on the Great Reform Act of 1832, which increased the number of people able to vote in elections. The statue is 42m tall, making it one of the tallest public sculptures in the UK.

 

Generation

Joseph Hillier

Generation (2005) is an impressive group of three large sculptural human heads. They are rendered in bronze, Corten steel and stainless steel and are reminiscent of three different eras of human and industrial production. The bronze head recalls early metalworking in the North of England. The Corten steel head, with a rust-like appearance, recalls later advances in industry, while the stainless steel head, formed by a network of welded steel rods, resonates with the modern digital age.

 

Parson’s Polygon

David Hamilton

Parsons’ Polygon is a Terracotta Relief cladding to a concrete ventilation shaft for the metro tunnel serving Monument station. It is a monument to Sir Charles Parsons (1854-1931): mathematician, engineer & designer of early turbine engines, all of which he worked on in the North East after moving here to work at Lord Armstrong’s factory.

He famously designed and built ‘The Turbinia’ to demonstrate the superiority of the turbine marine engine. Turbinia can now been seen at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. The design of the ceramic relief is based on Parsons’ engineering drawings.

 

The DNA Spiral

Charles Jencks

This sculpture was commissioned by the Centre for Life and completed in 2000. It’s made from 4.5m of galvanised steel. It represents the DNA double helix and the scientific and medical breakthroughs that would come from the Centre for Life’s innovation. It was unveiled by James Watson who, together with Francis Crick, discovered the DNA double helix in 1953.

 

Swirle Pavillion

Raf Fulcher

The Swirle Pavilion is part of the Newcastle and Gateshead ‘Art on the Riverside’ Project instigated by Sir Terry Farrell’s Quayside regeneration. Below the globe are inscribed all of the European ports that were regularly visited by shipping from the Tyne. Hamburg, Genoa, Aberdeen, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Malmo, London, Antwerp and Hull.

 

Spiral Nebula

Geoffrey Clarke, RA

Spiral Nebula is an important example of post-war 20th-century public art. It was originally commissioned in 1962 by the architect Sir Basil Spence, to be permanently sited in front of the Herschel Building to complement its modernist architecture. The sculpture can be taken as a symbol of scientific advances in the 1960s and reflects the subjects being explored in the Herschel Building’s physics department at that time. In 2012 conservation of the sculpture was undertaken by Geoffrey Clarke’s son, Jonathan. This was supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, INTO Partnership and the Catherine Cookson Foundation.

 

Welcome to the Palindrome

Bridget Jones and Linda France

A playful integration of image and language. A single word is printed onto each of the 26 panels. You are invited to read the words as a complete poem as you pass through the tunnel from either direction.

 

Blacksmith’s Needle

British Artist Blacksmith’s Association

The Blacksmith’s Needle comprises of six layers of metalwork, each layer with objects relating to the senses including what was describes as ‘the mysterious sixth sense’. Created from sections made at public ‘forge ins’ around the country. The Needle was ceremonially inaugerated by the percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

 

River God

Andre Wallace

Sculpture on Newcastle’s Quayside near the Millennium Bridge paired with ‘Siren’. ‘River God’ was unveiled on 14th June 1996. The bronze figure is blowing towards the ‘Siren’ at the top of Sandgate Steps. Possible inspiration for the figure comes from a strongman who used to perform on the Quayside, wrapped in chains and eating fire. The original plan was for a gas flame from the figure’s mouth but cost, safety and maintenance meant that this feature was not installed.

 

Siren

Andre Wallace

‘Siren’ is the accompanying piece to ‘River God’, both by Andre Wallace. She calls out to the River God and he leans towards her, blowing fire.

 

Rudder

Andrew Burton

The piece is a striking but simple, rudder like form, which is subtly curved. At its highest point the form flows into a step like feature with elements, which curve out of the sculpture. The bronze is patinated green and has a aired surface, which is apparently smooth but if examined more closely has imperfections, which invite the viewer to touch the metal.

Rudder is a partner piece to Column and Steps nearby. The 1990s saw the transformation of Newcastle’s Quayside. Costing £170 million, Tyne and Wear Development Corporation’s overall scheme was designed by Terry Farrell Associates, with public art being seen as integral to the aesthetic appeal of the area.

 

Ellipsis Eclipses

Danny Lane

The title ‘Ellipsis Eclipses’ is a play on words based on its form, derived from the intersection of two circles or ellipses like the eclipse of the moon or sun. The tower is made up of a plinth of stainless steel on which stands 9m of glass. The glass element comprises six separate stacks held by stainless steel bars around a stainless steel fin. The tower works with the lighting from within the Gate. This plate glass reacts as light falls on the varying surfaces.

 

Chinatown Archway

Yonglai Zhang

Newcastle’s Chinese arch was designed by Mr Yonglai Zhang, and constructed by a team of 12 traditional craftsmen from the Changsu Classical Garden Construction Company Ltd from Changsu, in the Jiangsu Province.

The arch is 11m high with a span of 9m between the two vertical columns. Carved and painted animals, notably dragons and phoenixes, decorate the arch. There are seven panels on each side of the arch carved or painted with typical scenes or figures from Tyneside. Two stone lions stand guard at the base of the arch, bringing good look and prosperity to the area.

 

The Response 1914

John William Goscomb

‘The Response’ is a war memorial sited on the grounds of St Thomas the Martyr Church on Barras Bridge, it is a detailed depiction of soldiers bidding farewell to loved ones as they march off to war, ‘the response’ being their outcry to save their country on the brink of war in 1914.

At the front of the memorial drummer boys lead Northumberland Fusiliers and the ordinary working men of the district, some carrying tools, some carrying rifles, while children beckon the men on.

 

Man with Potential Selves

Sean Henry

Sean Henry describes the theme of his work as “the tension between the making and staging of figures that seem to belong to the real world, and the degree to which they echo our experiences and sympathies”.

They are meant to represent three aspects or alter egos of the same man, based on no-one in particular, rather symbolising an Everyman character, or the working men of the city. Sean Henry is also responsible for the sculpture of the couple at Newbiggin-by-the-sea.