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Public art

Within South Tyneside there are many visually stunning pieces of public art waiting to be discovered. Here are just some examples!

Conversation Piece

Juan Munoz

These magnificent statues, affectionately known as the 'weebles', are a firm favourite with visitors and residents alike.

Situated next to Littlehaven Beach at the mouth of the Tyne in South Shields, the 22 mysterious figures stand in various poses; some deep in conversation with one another, others simply gazing out to sea.

Each figure is approximately 1.5 metres high and weighs approximately a quarter of a ton.

They are a fitting tribute to South Tyneside's glorious coast and a poignant posthumous monument to the work of internationationally acclaimed Spanish sculptor Juan Munoz.

The Sail

Stephen Broadbent

The Sail, near Haven Point, is a cast concrete and aluminium structure based on the traditional fishing cobles that guided large vessels safely into port. A circle cut out of the sculpture also offers views out into the ocean.

This artwork, which has proved to be an iconic piece of artwork for the area, was produced by Stephen Broadbent and unveiled as part of the enhancement of Littlehaven promenade in April 2014.

The Eye

Stephen Broadbent

Another firm favourite, and another piece of artwork on Littlehaven Promenade produced by Stephen Broadbent, is The Eye.

Located at the other end of the promenade to The Sail, next to Conversation Piece, this impressive sculpture overlooks the entrance to the River Tyne.

It's raised position allows you to peer through it and out towards the sea.

Inspired by the songs and tales of families waiting for their loved ones to return from the sea, The Eye also has a verse from the poem Blow the Wind Southerly on either side, with words from the poem also scattered along the length of the promenade.

Tommy Silhouette

This new silhouette, an outline of a soldier, was unveiled in July 2019 and commemorates all those who lost their lives in the First World War.

The bespoke Tommy figure, the only three metre Tommy outside of London, was funded by BT South Tyneside.

It is part of the 'There But Not There' project, a national art installation which represents the fallen British and Commonwealth First World War soldiers within the communities they left behind.

This memorial was originally situated next to Haven Point, but it has recently moved to a new home in North Marine Park looking out to the Littlehaven Beach.

Wavemaker

Michelle Castles

Michelle Castles created a unique piece of art that would reflect activity in our impressive seafront leisure facility of Haven Point, while inspiring more people to get involved in sport.

Using wire mesh, she handcrafted the life-size models of a man swimming the butterfly stroke, and has since revealed that the proportions are based on the actual measurements of six-time world swimming champion, Mark Foster.

The striking 'Wavemaker' is currently suspended from the ceiling that overlooks the centre's main reception area and provides a unique talking point for visitors who can also view it from the café, gym and mezzanine.

Spirit of South Shields

Irene Brown

The 'Spirit of South Shields' was installed in 2000 on the banks of the River Tyne at Market Dock, just a couple of minutes walk from the Ferry Landing and The Customs House.

She harbours a ship safely in one arm whilst raising her other arm in greeting.

The work is based upon a great deal of research into the historical associations with South Shields - a long and rich history from the Romans through to the more familiar history of the ship repair yards.

The Spirit is seen as the protector - guiding the ship through the seas safely. She stands strong and optimistic, unafraid and invigorated by the winds of change. She is the prow, the figurehead for South Shields' future.

Fleet

Irene Brown

Irene Brown crafted 'Fleet' in 2004 from highly polished stainless steel.

It consists of seven Collier Brigs (sailing ships that carried coal) which appear to be floating in a pool of water, which was once used to be a dry dock used for shipbuilding and ship repairs.

The design of the Fleet is the same as the ship being held by the closeby 'Spirit of South Shields', as well as the weather vane on top of South Shields Town Hall.

The brightly polished ships reflect patterns of both moving sky and water and give the impression of a fleet heading out to sea.

You can see Fleet in the Market Dock area of South Shields, just a few minutes walk away from South Shields Town Centre and Ferry Landing.

Art Trail in South Marine Park

Various

Visitors to South Marine Park, on South Shields Seafront, can follow an art trail featuring ten sculptures reflecting the heritage and natural environment of the park.

Local school children worked with artists to develop the pieces, one of which depicts a magical mythical creature who the youngsters imagined may once have inhabited the park.

If you take a stroll through the park keep an eye out for the beautiful Pink Ladies sculptures too, overlooking the park, and look out for the park benches that incorporate wrought iron squirrels, mice and griffins.

I Can See The Sea

Ocean Road, South Shields' famous street linking the Town Centre with the Seafront, is now home to a number of impressive pieces of artwork.

Artwork includes three large sculptures at key junctions along the street. Two of the 3 metre high creations are figurative sculptures, one of a boy stood on fish with a plinth engraved with 'I Can See the Sea' and another of a girl stood on a whale with the plinth engraved with 'I Can See the Town'. The other depicts a Roman soldier directing people to Arbeia Roman Fort.

A series of 'fun' bollards, which have been carved in stone to represent fish, ice cream and boats - traditional elements of a seaside town - have also been installed.

Word Beacon

Andrew Mckeown

Installed as part of the North Marine Park restoration in 2020 this six metre Beacon celebrates South Tyneside's lost shipping industries.

Made from weathering corten steel it features words and occupations linked to those industries and stands proud on the Lawe Top. Words are welded onto the bottom half and laser cut into the top which will be illuminated at night.

The structure takes inspiration from the original Lawe Top beacons built in 1832 and will be visible from Sea Road, the foreshore and beyond.

Spirit of Jarrow

Graham Ibbeson

Located in Jarrow's Viking Centre shopping centre, the 'Spirit of Jarrow' is a life-sized bronze statue that was commissioned to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Jarrow March for Jobs that took place in October 1936.

Created by sculptor Graham Ibbeson and named by two local residents who won a competition, the monument shows two marchers, two children, a woman carrying a baby and a dog which was the march mascot.

They are all walking out of the ribs of a ship carrying the Jarrow Crusade banner.

Find out more about the area's historic buildings & monuments

Alice in Chuterland

Collabrative piece between Irony, Jo Howell and Frank Styles

This painting is a collaboration between Frank Styles and an artist called Irony. Irony painted the figure, the model is Faith Rutherford and photography by Jo Howell. Frank Styles did the calligraffiti, that's calligraphy sprayed with paint, arranged the photoshoot and helped with the concept. This commission was organised by Fitzrova Arts as part of Cultural Springs Street Art Heroes project.

The painting lights up under UV light during the night! It was the first permanent UV lit outdoor street art.

Commercial Road Mural

D Wilkinson

In 1980 a Youth Enterprise Project team, South Shields painted a mural in Commercial Road. The mural was designed by D. Wilkinson to depict the history of the town from its Roman beginnings up to the industrial era of the 1970s. It is hand painted on a retaining wall of an old railway embankment that used to carry trains into Low Shields Station (long since demolished).

Dolly Peel

Billy Gofton

Dorothy Peel (1782 - 1857) Known as Dolly, she was a fishwife and famous character in Victorian South Shields. She was also known as a smuggler and for protecting local sailors from the press gang. She worked as a hawker of allegedly contraband goods and became well known for her wit and colourful stories. The monument, comissioned by Reg Peel (her great, great, great grandson) was intended as a tribute to the strength of local working women.

Gallipoli War Memorial

A war memorial commemorating the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. In proud memory of the men from Tyneside who fought and died there.

The Golden Lion

Stone lion (possibly Coade stone), lying down with paws in front, around 1m high on a stone pedestal 1.4m high, 1.77m wide and 70cm deep. It was painted gold when it was first erected.Originally part of the Golden Lion Public House on Ocean Road, located in the pedestal above the front door. The pub was demolished in April 1973 but the lion was kept.

Hand

David Gross

A large wooden hand stained a dull red, with a propeller in its palm. Sited above the river bank in a privately owned shipyard, but visible from the road outside and from the river bank in North Tyneside. The sculptor collaborated with pupils from SS Peter and Paul's RC Primary School. 'Hand' is meant to be "a symbolic greeting to ships entering the River Tyne". Part of the Art on the Riverside scheme.

John Simpson Kirkpatrick - Man with the Donkey

Robert Olley

A memorial depicting Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey stands outside Kirkpatrick's public house on Ocean Road, South Shields. Also known as the 'man with the donkey', South Shields born Kirkpatrick emigrated to Australia where he joined the Army at the start of the First World War. He went on to become a household name for rescuing injured soldiers under heavy Turkish fire at the battle of Gallipoli. Sadly Kirkpatrick was killed in action in 1915, aged just 22 - but not before saving more than 300 wounded comrades by carrying them to safety on his donkey.

The Jubilee Memorial

J H Morton, Architect. John F Scott, Sculptor. R B Farbridge, Monumental Mason

Commonly known as the "Wouldhave memorial", the west face contains a tablet with the inscription "Erected in commemoration of Jubilee of H M Queen Victoria June 20th 1887, as a memorial of the beneficent work of the lifeboat as designed and built in South Shields in year 1790."

Landing Lights

Martin Richman

‘Landing Lights’ is a lightwork integrated into the form and function of the ferry landing.

Lizard, Armchair and Owl

Jason Bryant

Large limestone sculptures of a lizard, armchair and abstract owl within the Marsden Old Quarry Local Nature Reserve.

The Merchant Navy Memorial

Graham Ibbeson, Designer. Chris Wormald, Sculptor

The bronze and yellow ashlar monument depicts a sailor at the wheel on a sloping base to give the impression of what it is like to stand on a ship's deck in a choppy sea. Overlooking the Tyne the statue was unveiled by the Duchess of Mountbatten, widow of distinguished naval commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten in memory of the merchant seamen who sailed from South Shields Port and lost their lives in World War II.

Morn and Eve

Alfred Drury

Commonly known as the "Naked Ladies", these four bronze statues, two depicting morning and two evening, each holding a lamp were copies of the original Morning and Evening statues in City Square, Leeds which were installed in 1903.

Nautical Objects

Matthew Jarrett

Commissioned by South Tyneside Council these images are based on drawings made in the local ship repair yards by children from the local Ashley Road Primary School, produced during an artists residency at Tyne Dock Engineering whose welders also made the artwork.

Nightclub Shadow and memories

Jim Roberts

The site of a former popular nightclub, the La Strada, has been transformed into an impressive art display complete with glitter ball. Opened in 1961 by local entrepreneur Sandford Goudie it was one of the first nightclubs in the North East.

The Portrait Bench

A bench stands in front a sculpture of three figures, each of which is locally significant and has been cut from Corten steel. From left to right the figures represent Sarah Millican (a comedienne), Norman Fay (a locally well known cycle builder and keen cyclist who was killed in a cycle accident in 2008) and a generic member of the Roman Army. The artwork sits on Sustrans route 14, part of the National Cycle Network.

Queen Victoria Memorial

Albert Toft

Bronze statue on granite pedestal. Commemorating the life of Queen Victoria, inscription reads "Victoria Queen - Empress 1837 - 1901.

Readhead's Shipyard War Memorial

Bronze plaque, wall mounted. Inscription: 1914-1919 reads "As a memorial to the employees of the West Docks who gave their services and also to the immortal memory of those employees named who fell in the Great War this tablet is erected by James Redhead Esp., Chairman and Managing Director". The plaque was commissioned by Messrs. John Readhead & Sons, shipbuilders. Formerly located at Readhead's Shipyard, Tyne Dock, in the headquarters of the Ship Repairers.

Running Man and Dog

Topiary running man commemorating the Great North Run which finishes further up the Coast Road, the dog was added in 2017 to commemorate the Great North Dog Walk which takes place annually on The Leas.

St Hilda's Pit Wheel

St Hilda's pit disaster claimed the lives of 51 men and boys on 28 June 28 1839, including two 12-year-olds. The red pit wheel monument has stood on the grass verge alongside Station Road in South Shields, since 1989, and now is surrounded by a planted area, trees and park benches. The memorial was first created in 1989, and cost £32,500 - paid for by a partnership of South Tyneside Council, British Coal and the National Union of Mineworkers.

Temple Park Stone Carvings

Large stone carvings on paths around Temple Park, a fossil and a frog on two entrances to the park from Manet Gardens and an acorn on the top path from King George Road.

Tyne Voyages Benches

Michael Chaplin

The stone benches are linked to "Tyne Voyages" written by Michael Chaplin, 20 fact-based stories about the crews and cargoes of ships which visited over the last 2,000 years. The benches are engraved with details of the ships’ cargoes and destinations.

Westoe Mining Cart

South Tyneside is proud of its industrial heritage and is proud of its mining past. In memory of the pits across South Tyneside, special mining carts are on public display in Westoe (at the end of Mowbray Road near the New Crown) and outside Boldon & Cleadon Community Library (formerly Boldon Library).

The White Horse

The White Horse is painted on a rock face in the Marsden Old Quarry nature reserve, off Lizard Lane, Marsden, South Shields. It appears to date back to at least 1887, though its origins are confused to say the least, and it has generated a number of stories of differing likelyhood.

Boldon Mining Carts

South Tyneside is proud of its industrial heritage and is proud of its mining past. In memory of the pits across South Tyneside, special mining carts are on public display in Westoe (at the end of Mowbray Road near the New Crown) and entrance to Boldon Colliery (junction Abingdon Way and Boldon Colliery.

Etta's Seat

Colin Wilbourne, Stone. Craig Knowles, Metalwork

This seat was commissioned by Anne and John Hudson, residents of West Boldon to commemorate Anne's mother, Etta, who was the tenant of the Red Lion public house from 1960 to 1980.  The monument was given a South Tyneside Good Design Award in 2006.

Captain Sir Tom Moore and Covid 19 Memorial

Plaques read "Remembering Captain Sir Tom Moore, 1920 - 2021, A true hero, Thank you" and "2020/2021, Etched in our hearts forever, Donated by Friends of Hebburn Cemetary and European Active Projects Limited" The statue features stained glass in the colours of the rainbow.

Hebburn Riverside Park Markers and Panels

Matthew Jarratt, Neil Canavan and local school children

Carved waymarkers along the trail. Black painted steel view-point markers were designed by Matthew Jarratt and Neil Canavan with local school children in 1996. Also metal panels on fencing along river were designed by local school children in 2004.

Sir Charles Mark Palmer

Albert Toft

The statue pays tribute to Sir Charles Mark Palmer, the first Mayor of Jarrow, and founder of Palmer’s Shipyard, which at it's peak once employed over 10,000 workers. The statue originally stood in the Palmer Memorial Hospital, but was moved to Jarrow Riverside Park in 1982. It was moved again to its present position, to make way for the extension of the Tyne Tunnel.

The Vikings

Colin M Davidson

The "Vikings" reflect the historic links between the town as the home of Bede and the Scandanavian countries. It was commissioned by the Arndal Property Trust and presented to the local authority in 1962.

Zeppelin Raid

YMCA Central Jarrow Detached Youth Project

The painting depicts the story of a Zeppelin raid on Jarrow in June of 1915, with the River Tyne and burning buildings in the background. It includes panels featuring the names of local people who died at Palmers Yard as a result of the raid, as well as the children involved in the project.

Dolphin

Tommy Craggs

The ten foot tall feature is situated in the south east corner of Cornthwaite Park, near to the Borough boundary with Sunderland.  The sculpture was commissioned by South Tyneside Council and created by North East chainsaw sculptor Tommy Craggs.  The environmentally sustainable artwork was inspired by its coastal location and an increased number of dolphin sightings reported in local waters. The elegant piece is made from recycled oak and weighs three quarters of a ton.

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll used to visit his cousin, Margaret Wilcox, who lived in Whitburn and is said to have written "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and parts of "Through the Looking Glass" while staying there.