Maritime artwork installed across North Shields to honour industrial heritage

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Three artworks inspired by North Shields' history are to be installed.

Three artworks inspired by North Shields' maritime heritage are being installed at the town's new Transport Hub and Town Square this winter.

Created by local artist Colin Davies as part of an 18-month project funded by a government grant, they have been made using sustainable and environmentally-sound materials.

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Inside the Transport Hub, more than 2,000 fish have been suspended on a wire sculpture from the ceiling.

Outside the new Town Square, two marble monkey's fist knot sculptures will sit on concrete plinths rising from the planters and seating with installation due to take place this month.

A third artwork is planned for the New Year and is based on fishermen's synoptic weather maps and will use morse code to spell out a poem about life at sea on a wall inside the Transport Hub.

Colin Davis said: “These artworks all have something in common. They draw on the town’s industrial heritage, they share the narrative of the place, and the community has been involved in creating them.

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“The suspended wire fish sculpture is made from recycled plastic, donated by North Tyneside businesses CJM Recycling and Impact Recycling.

“It sits on a truss framework suspended from the roof within the main atrium of the Transport Hub. North Tyneside Council provided a space on the Fish Quay for us to fabricate the 2,000 individual fish and we created four jobs for young people who helped us make the installation over the summer. 

“The work weighs 250kg. According to UNESCO, this is the lower end of how much plastic waste they estimate is dumped into the sea every single second. To raise awareness of this for our riverside town, the sculpture is called: “everysecondofeveryminuteofeveryhourofeveryday”.

“It’s all lower case and one word to suggest breathlessness and the continuous nature of the plastic waste pollution."

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Next to arrive will be the two marble monkey’s fist knot sculptures in the new Town Square. One is made from white Carrara marble and the other from Kilkenny black fossil granite, carved by Stone Circle stonemasons. The knots were used to weigh down rope when boats shared supplies and needed to anchor to shore.

Colin said: “I wanted to create artworks that were immediate and impactful, using bold geometric forms to tell stories and draw on the history of North Shields.

“This commission draws a direct line from the town's riverside fishing heritage through to the future generations who will enjoy spending time in the reimagined town centre.”

The new Transport Hub and Town Square opened in September 2023, thanks to government funding from the Transforming Cities Fund via Transport North East and the North of Tyne Combined Authority, and additional funding from North Tyneside Council.

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