Wansbeck Estuary Art Trail

“The imaginatively designed mileposts provide a reminder of the past history, once a bustling railway as well as helping walkers and cyclists find their way.’” Tony Ranfield

A network of cycle routes next to the River Wansbeck between Blyth, Ashington and Lynemouth, provide a green corridor and important wildlife resource running through residential areas and a former industrial area that is currently derelict and underused. 
 
Thinking of Water by Richard Harris is a major earthwork consisting of 10 paths each leading off the main route through restricted stone ‘squints’ down to the water.  ‘Each path brings you to a slightly different view point.  Each path has a rhythm that evokes the movement of water to the river and on out towards the sea.’ 
 
Sweetheart Wings by Simon Watkinson are giant boulders inlaid with nine gunmetal cast aeroplanes (Spitfire, Wellington and Heinkel 111) that reference the high level of RAF activity in the area during WW2 and the notion of fossilised aircraft. 
 
Double Avenue (His and Hers) by Bob Budd is a planting scheme in which double rows of Rowan and Birch trees create avenues of giant interlocking circles where couples can promenade.  They make a statement about the nature of modern relationships, each partner has a separate space to gather their thoughts, where the circles intersect the planting allows them to meet up again.
 
Simplicity Bench by Yumiko Aoyagi consists of a series of four interlocking green oak benches that are both ‘simple and practical’, reflecting the ancient principles of weaving.  The bench does not interrupt the landscape, which can be used comfortably by groups of people of all ages and sizes. 
 
The project offered a real opportunity for local communities in SE Northumberland to be involved in the development of high quality artwork, and help to raise the profile of the area, contributing to a sense of cultural and environmental wellbeing. 
 
Educational Programme:
 
‘I enjoyed the idea that the children started the process and that the finished sculpture was theirs’.  Teacher at Stakeford School. 
 
‘ … I realised that artists do lots of different things not just paintings and drawings.’ Pupil at Stakeford School. 
 
Artists Paul Merrick and Paul Moss, ran practical workshops to raise awareness of the new artworks and help illuminate the artistic process. They met with the commissioned artists to gain an understanding of their work, the sites and the project. Seven schools in the region were invited to apply for workshop sessions. The final participating schools were West Sleekburn, Stakeford County First and Mobray First.  During the session pupils made observational drawings that were translated into temporary sculptures and installed on site at a launch event in August 2005 

This project has been made possible by the generous support of Wansbeck District Council, Northumberland County Council, Northern Rock Foundation, Arts Council England - North East, Northumberland Strategic Partnership, Greening4growth and MIDNAG.

Plan your visit to explore the artworks on this Art trail along the Coast and Castles South Route.

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