Sunday, 9 July 2017

Public Art in The Felling

The Pant, Felling Square

The Pant is long gone (broken up and used as landfill) and Felling Square is currently nondescript, in need of demolition and a fresh start. The creation of a piece of public art as a centre piece seems to be the general view. Not only would it be a homage to the well loved and missed Pant but it would be in keeping with many of our neighbouring towns which have in their town centres an item of public art...see examples below.
We have a couple of examples, currently in The Felling. The sculptured shop front

Neil Talbot's relief sculpture of a Victorian Baker's Shop, at the junction Carlisle Street/Sunderland Road.
has been around for a long time but since 2010 we've had this (albeit, moved slightly)

‘Water Wheel’, by artist Jim Roberts, at the entrance of the High Lanes estate since 2010

This circular shape is attractive and it is said to be based on a water wheel, which is not particularly associated with The Felling (altho' one did exist at Heworth). A pit wheel would perhaps be more fitting, but no matter. Attached to the wheel there's a football, which is fair enough and a pitman's helmet..just seen on the right of the wheel. There's a train..good...and a tunnel that's reflects, I suppose, that the train does at one point run below the motor traffic. The spider could at a stretch represent industry and the ship represents both ship building and, more particularly, that coal and grindstones were shipped out of the town to London and, grindstones in particular, all around the World (Wherever in the World you are you'll always find a rat, a Scot and a Newcastle grindstone (Newcastle? damned cheek). Notable by its absence is any reference to the Chemical/Paint industry, which was a large industry in The Felling area, competing with mining and quarrying for the work force and while it did not employ as many then, it has probably employed more than those given that, half a century later, paint production is still in full flow
The one mooted for Felling Square is based on human figures, which appears to be in fashion judging by other recent monuments in the North East


Washington Town Centre

There are exceptions to figures at Sacriston and this one at Watergate Forest Park
Here's a sketch, commissioned by The Felling Heritage Group, of a possible art feature. It's similar to the Washington one but has a pitman, a soldier and a child standing on two grindstones. The book carries an inscription but could represent not just a) locally created education by Church & Industry a hundred years earlier than the eventual education operated by Government but b) the Felling-on-Tyne based Walter Scott Publishing Company, which published masses of books, worldwide. Personally,  I'd also like to see something like a pestle & mortar to represent the paint/chemical industry, as mentioned earlier
Views from the canny folk of Felling will be sought and you could express your own view here, should you be so inclined. Gateshead Council have major revamp plans for The Felling with demolition of high rise & other blocks of flats and a revitalisation of Felling Square so progress on a public art feature will be done in conjunction with the Council.

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