Sculpture Day 2016: Game ON!

It is very nearly Sculpture Day… is THIS Sunday, starting at 11am in Saltwell Park, Gateshead.


So how are going to approach this year’s theme Games? Even if you’ve been before but especially if you haven’t, I want to make sure that you get the most out of the day and build something fantastic!


I love this year’s theme Games; it is so open to interpretation! But I’m going to give you some ideas to get you started thinking – You could build;

  • Something from the Olympic games
  • A level from a retro game – eg: Sonic.
  • Your favourite Pokemon character.
  • Take an idea from a Computer game; e.g. Mario Cart, Grand Theft Auto or the Simms.
  • Something board game inspired e.g. Monopoly, Scrabble, Connect four, Hungry Hippos, Guess who or a 90s favourite of mine; Dream Phone!
  • App games – Candy Crush, Subway Surfer…
  • Card games – poker inspired or exploding kittens.
  • School games – e.g. something Sports day related, What’s the time Mr Wolf, Red Rover or Tag.
  • A 3D reimagining of your current favourite Virtual Reality game.
  • Fair games – e.g. Hook a Duck.
  • Other games such as bowling, bowls, Pool, Snooker…..

I could go on, the list is simply endless and I can’t wait to see what you guys get building this year!


I thought I’d ask the experts for a bit of advice that may help you get building….. I spoke to Karen Rann- A Sculpture Day sculptor, Anna Pepperall – Gateshead Public Art Curator, Adam Taylor –Sculpture Day addict and event’s manager and Jen Douglas – Gateshead based artist and sculptor. I gathered their hints, tips and insights to give you a helping hand to get started…..

What are your top tips for Sculpture day 2016?

Adam: Make it a family/group activity, everyone chipping in ideas, agreeing on a plan, choosing wood, and then building.


Anna: Wear Warm clothes, and thick shoes/boots; bring lots of food, and your own hammers!

Jen: Either ‘ go with the flow’ and wait till you arrive to think about the Sculpture Day theme or, have a think about the theme beforehand, brainstorm ideas that you can bring along to work on with your family or group of friends you come with so you have starting points for what to make.

Right – so we’ve got lots of wood, they’ve got their tools – what is the best way to get started?

Adam: It’s always good to have a good plan, and think about how the various bits of wood are going to be nailed together.

Anna: Talk to Staff on the Info desk, look at a storyboard for inspirational ideas , ask an artist, or join a group already working on something.


Karen: Think about framework, creating a good ‘bone structure’ it’s fun to save adding all the little details till the end.

Jen: If you get stuck for ideas there are Sculptors on hand to give you inspiration and get you started. Think through which of these ideas will work in 3D using wood and nails…. Some things might work better than others.


Is it best to plan your sculpture before you start or just “go with the flow”?

Anna:  Either- some people prefer to come with an idea but often it’s good to look around and get inspiration, or from the Artists/Storyboard.

Jen: It’s sometimes useful to think about making the sculpture from the base up – work as a team/family to decided who works on which section of the sculpture so everyone has a job! With lots of different types of wood different lengths/thicknesses etc. might suit different sections to your sculpture so a plan may be useful.

Karen: Depends how you like to work it could be you spot an enticing bit of timber at that gets the imagination going, don’t forget to look at the school’s work for inspiration.


For the Sculpture Day veterans or newbies out there, who attend year on year what would your advice be on approaching this year’s theme “Games”?

Adam: Plan something original!

Jen:  When you’ve decided what you want to make gather together some pieces of wood and lay them out on the floor so that you can start to ‘map out’ your sculpture and see how each piece might join together to form your 3D masterpiece. You can always tweak and add more pieces of wood to make the work more elaborate.


It’s as much fun to just tinker away with the wood and create something quite unique and un-related to the theme – that is fine too Sculpture Day is a fantastic experience to have and everyone who comes along has fun!

Karen:  Don’t always go with the first idea, it may be a tricky one to transform into 3d, there’s so many types of games and a little time spent playing with ideas might lead to something really novel and fun to make.


Well it’s over to you Culture Vultures; I’ll see you in the Grove, in Saltwell Park on Sunday from 11am.

Game on!

Gilbert Ward July Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month.

Another Month over and another Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month; for July we have been lucky enough to have Gilbert Ward as our artist in residence in Saltwell Park!

Gilbert in action

Gilbert is a local favourite sculptor with strong ties to Gateshead Riverside, Cheeseburn, Northumberland and he has recently completed a residency in Alnwick Gardens. Those of you, who keenly attend Anna Pepperall’s Public Art Walks may have even met Gilbert during an interpreted Riverside Walk, as he talked through his inspirations and practice when creating Foliate Forms’.


Foliate Forms’ by Gilbert Ward (2010), Gateshead Riverside Park

Every Tuesday in July, 10am-3pm Gilbert pitched up next to the Rose Garden, in Saltwell Park and offered passers by the opportunity to see and experience Sculpture in Action. As it is in the midst of the Summer holidays, Gilbert was not in shortage of people in the Park eager and curious, to find out what he was doing!


Through-out his time in Saltwell Park, Gilbert was working on a new piece called “The Kiss” made out of Doddington Stone; the piece really blossomed and developed across the month with many Park goers returning to see how the work was progressing.


Some Park goers simply relaxed and took in his practice interested in the process, the form and the image but many, including myself, wanted to get more hands on and actually have a bit of a go whilst visiting the Park, a place many visitors describe as “the lungs of Gateshead”.

Speaking about sculpture Gilbert commented “I am a sculptor and a sculptor’s work is his statement. Sculpture cannot lie; it is an idea, material, form and structure, brought together in an object, which occupies a particular space with its presence.”

Gilbert was born proudly in 1935, in Yorkshire and like any typical Yorkshire man; he’s a big fan of his Yorkshire brew! He lives, works and of course sculpts in amongst the beautiful landscape of Northumberland.

Gilbert Ward has been commissioned to develop many sculptures across the North East of England. Gilberts work in stone and wood stems from a fascination with formal geometry and structures found within nature. Often carving on site or with communities Gilbert works to develop a sculptural response to a landscape.

One such piece is positioned in Saltwell Park – Foliate Carving. It’s a beautiful peace and there is something about it, something natural and connected the growing wonderland around it that feels so right and as if it truly belongs.

Foliate Carving – Gilbert Ward (2006)

“When I am working for a fixed site, I try to make the piece (usually in stone) fit the place, and fitting into its landscape. One hopes that those who pause upon finding the sculpture will come to an understanding of its meaning, and of it becoming a living part of their landscape.”

Gilbert has many more pieces across the North East and viewing them is a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and exploring this Summer. Another beautiful piece is situated up at Bowes and Tanfield Railway Paths……


Standing Stone by Gilbert Ward.

Gilbert also has installed 2 collections of small sculptural works at Cheeseburn which he has been developing over the last 10 years: ‘Bakers Dozen’ (hornbeam) and ‘The Fall’ (ash).


Cheeseburn – Gilbert Ward

Sited in the old potting shed at Cheeseburn these works explore the potential of natural forms for growth and evolution.

“I live in the hope that others will get the same amount of pleasure seeing the work, as I did in preparing and making it.”

Well with another month over in our Sculpture 30 celebrations, that means two things…… 1. We are nearing closer to the end of the year-long festival! Boo! But 2. We’re one month closer to the next Gateshead Family Sculpture Day, which this year is on 25th September, as always in Saltwell Park, in the Grove. We can’t wait!

Yeyyyy…….with less than two months to go, Gateshead’s 31st Sculpture day count down is officially on!

Colin Rose – Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month: June

 Colin Rose has been one of my favourite Sculpture 30 artists so far; he’s very down to earth and a hands on creative, which to me makes the often intangible creative process into something quite real and tangible. He also tells fantastic stories that go along with his Art and the positioning of each piece, which I could happily listen to all day.

Those of you, who pop into the Gallery at Gateshead Central library, may have caught his recent exhibition; charcoal earth paper.


This body of work was inspired by his use of earth, charcoal and time in Australia. The pieces forced on every objects of little beautiful, that he has captured within rich drawings, making them so intrinsically beautiful and interesting to look at.

I spoke to several people who viewed his exhibition and the general thematic questions arose “who is Colin Rose?” and “where can I see more of his work?”. Such questions are surely a good sign……so this blog post is about just that; I’m going to tell you who he is and the local pieces you can go and view!


Colin Rose is born and bred in the North East; like myself is a Northumbria University Graduate and is passionate not only about the “doing” side of Art but also the teaching side having held a variety of positions at local Universities. His work transcends different artistic mediums and materials; from rope work, to metal, to drawing, to toy trucks, to engineering feats of sculpture…..

I joined him on his recent Sculpture Tour on Saturday 18th June to view and find out more about his Public sculpture works in the region….

Our first stop was Window; local Gateshead folk will recognise the piece from the Bensham area on Rawling Road.


Window (1986)

Window was commissioned as part of a regeneration project in the area and interestingly, irrespective of its size and dominance, very much blends into the urban architecture of the area. To me, at least someone born in 1985, it has always been there and I can’t imagine the space beforehand.


Colin talked through the process of erecting such a piece; his love for Sculpture doesn’t just focus on the planning and making part, but also the “how on earth are we going to move this piece and get it into position???”. Apparently such problem solving trials have involved driving several cars into the ground……

Window is very much inspired by sound and form and for me, even just knowing the name “window” automatically shaped my view of what it represented; a window into Bensham and Gateshead. Colin purported his preference of hearing other people’s take on the sculpture and what “thing” they think it is before expressing his inspiration.


And of course, he is quite right….. we all put individual meaning onto things, that can be radically changed once the artist states what it is. That’s another reason I like Colin, his love of listening to others and his “realness” about his art. I tend to find people try to see meaning in Art, sometimes beyond meaning that is actually there and full of metaphor….. sometimes a box can in fact just be a box and still be as brilliant.

The next piece we viewed was Swirl, which is on the Gateshead Quays, just behind Baltic. Swirl is another beautiful metal piece of sculpture that just perfectly “fits” with the surroundings. So much so, I assumed that Colin must have known about the wider developments of the area when he was commissioned to do it, but in fact he was unaware and responding to the surroundings pre-2010. It has a very strong sense of belonging.


Swirl (2010)

What I love about Swirl, is that it is a piece that has become a part of people’s daily lives; my office was close by at the Northern Design Centre (there are lots of offices in Baltic Square) and people like myself often take time out of the office environment to each lunch there or even host a meeting by Swirl. Skaters skate around it and on it, students from Gateshead College sometimes sit doing their work next to it, it has become a prime wedding picture location for those having their party at the Baltic and it is a visitor hot spot on the Gateshead Quays. Swirl is the definition of accessible sculpture….


In addition, I love that Swirl has been named by so many people; becoming a representation of what they visually see it as; the vortex, water down a plug hole, leaning tower, metal thing, stairs, like a slinky, stack of silver coins (my name!)…..maybe you have your own name for it too.

Interestingly it’s made using the same method as the statue of liberty with a central copper core that keeps it upright and balanced. The engineering feat of this piece is not a mistake, as Colin a sculptor who describes himself as “going against the grain”, decided against pursuing a career as an engineer and swapped into Fine Art, something that was quite controversial at the time. However, his experience as an engineer is very dominant in pieces such as Swirl, as his design is enabled through industrial, hands on experience.

The third piece we visited was Rolling Moon, in Riverside Park on Gateshead Quays; this sculpture is another feat of structural engineering. It was commissioned for Glasgow Garden Festival before finding its home in Gateshead.


Rolling Moon (1989)

The piece represents the tide pulling back and forth the moon; when you look up at the piece it is difficult to understand how on earth the “moon” stays on us there.

Moreover, I think the piece has especially symbolic significance to the area; not only does it show the regeneration of the Riverside area which was in decline for some time but also the period pre-Angel, where Gateshead was beginning to position itself culturally and making great steps towards the vibrant Gateshead we know today.

The final piece on our tour was Wriggle in Saltwell Park. I live along the top of the Park and walk through it most days to get to and from work and I can honestly say, I’ve never noticed this piece; a true hidden gem.


Wriggle (2006)

It sits down towards the stream area on the rocky area of once of the waterfalls and is inspired by the river and sound waves. It sits perfectly within its natural surroundings and the fact, it rusts a bright reddish colour, creates a colourful contrast on the green foliage.

If like me, your appetite to see more Colin Rose pieces remains, you can visit Cheeseburn during one of their open weekends as he has three pieces sited across the grounds.

So back to the present….I will be lurking (a favourite hobby of mine) with Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month: July, Gilbert Ward this coming Tuesday….come and say hiyerrr! Hopefully the sun will shine!

Over and out…

Gilbert in action


July…. Saltwell Park meets Sculpture 30

July, ohhhh July, where is your summer sunshine and why is it hiding? I can’t promise sun shine for July, but I can promise a celebration of all things Saltwell Park as part of Gateshead Sculpture 30 Festival.


I’ve grown up in Low Fell, living right along the top of the park my whole life, since I was about 18months old. It was where I first rode a bike (into a tree – my Dad caught it on video), it was where I used to play out during long hot 90’s summers, it was where my Grandma told me that all the fireworks on Bonfire night (my birthday) were just for me and everyone was celebrating (I was such a diva child that of course, that seemed quite plausible), it is my walk to route every morning and it is my go to place for reflection. I love it.

Tyne Bridge Model 1

Tyne Bridge – Alan J Smith, Red Box Design

Part of my job (my old job) was working for Local Studies and I did a lot of cataloguing of Saltwell Park images and history….. I really got to know the history and saw images of the park from different ages and people in the park socialising and their wonderful fashions of the time (60s-90s is always a favourite of mine…. 80s hair was just brilliant).


Saltwell Park started life as a Victorian park in Gateshead. It was opened in 1876; the park was designed by Edward Kemp and incorporates the mansion and associated grounds of estate owner William Wailes. The park has flourished over the years and also during certain periods fallen into disrepair.


Across 1999 – 2005, the Park received £9.6million funding from Gateshead Council and Heritage Lottery for restoration and now the park is back into full bloom. Whilst 2million people visit the park for simply enjoyment and recreation, it is also the home of multiple events across the year, Enchanted Parks, Gateshead Family Sculpture Day and Gateshead Bonfire Night.


Enchanted Parks

So for July, Gateshead Culture Team are bringing a few events to Saltwell Park to celebrate culture in Saltwell Park.

Sculpture In Action

Every Tuesday (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th July, 10am-3pm) our July Sculpture 30 artist of the Month will be carving one of his stone sculptures in Saltwell Park. Gilbert has several pieces across the North East including Foliate Carving in Saltwell Park; he will be talking about his practice and pieces, so why not stop by and pay him a visit and see him in action.

Gilbert in action

He will be carving next to the Rose Garden, near Foliate Carving so just drop by!


Foliate Carving – Gilbert Ward

Have you walked around the Park and noticed all the amazing and interesting pieces of art and sculpture dotted around and thought “what is that?”. I know I have!

Saltwell park Sculpture Walk (meet at Saltwell Towers)

Tuesday 5th July, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Join Anna Pepperall, Public Art Curator on this informal walk and talk and discover some of the varied pieces of Sculpture in Saltwell Park. Many of these pieces have both National and International acclaim, so for a culture vulture of the North East, this walk and talk is an amazing opportunity to see the Park from a different perspective.

To book   :


Juxtaposition – Hideo Furuta

Creative Writing & Walking Workshop

Calling all budding writers…..we have a Creative Writing & Walking Workshop with writer and poet Ellen Phethean on 7th July, 6pm-8.30pm.


Wiggle – Colin Rose

You will be using Saltwell park and the surroundings as inspiration and prompts for a series of writing exercises. This workshop will push you out of your writing comfort zone and we are so lucky to have the legendary Ellen to facilitate this. I love her work!


To find out more about Ellen, follow this link….

To book and for more info:

So get yourself along to one of these events……..and if you can’t, well you have the whole summer to discover or rediscover Saltwell Park. I 100% know for a fact that it looks and feels better, with an ice-cream in hand….so that’s my top tip!

Over and out!

Enchanted Parks 2015 – a memorable feast

This is a funny old time of year – for some of you, you may be lost in a haze of Christmas cheer, cheese eating, seeing family and others, like me are back at work for a day or say, before off again and then boom – it’s 2016!

My job in Gateshead Culture team (and outside of) means I work on back to back projects and back to back events – hence I can almost steam roller through the entire year without really thinking about what I’ve been a part of. Also, I think with working in events and culture is that you’re always planning a head. And for you guys, attending cultural things – there is SO much going on, that it’s impossible to see everything, so blogs like this can be a great way to recap on what you’ve missed.

This festive period I’ve been spending the afternoons, scrolling through my IPhone, looking at the amazing things I’ve been a part of and attended and I think my favourite, might be Enchanted Parks! This year, Enchanted Parks was part of our Sculpture 30 festival with our December Sculpture 30 artist of the month, Steve Newby exhibiting possibly one of my favourite sculptures of all time, but Enchanted has a long history before that.

The seeds were sown for Enchanted Parks in 2006 when artists NVA delivered NewcastleGateshead’s first international festival of light Glow across NewcastleGateshead; establishing Saltwell Park as an outdoor after dark venue for contemporary art which has blossomed into a much loved, sold out and anticipated installation trail.


Over the past nine years of Enchanted Parks, (Enchanted is 10years old this year – Happy Birthday!) we have commissioned and presented 78 professional pieces of site-specific outdoor artwork in Saltwell Park, the vast majority commissioned especially for the event. We have engaged with schools and community groups in the development of many of the artworks as well as directly commissioning a further 27 pieces of artwork from students; opportunities for students on this scale are few and far between, so we are lucky to have Enchanted Parks in that respect.

A huge network of people, artists and organisations make Enchanted possible every year, including Gateshead Culture Team. We specifically support the development of Enchanted Parks directly through NewcastleGateshead Initiative support and officer involvement in the commissioning process and site planning. We also support the community engagement aspects of some of the commissioned artworks.

This year Enchanted Parks, ran from 9th December – 13th December and was based around the story of Alice in Wonderland but with a twist; Alice – now all grown up and 20 years old (although, as you can imagine, in her topsy turvy world it’s taken her 150 years to do so) – is visiting the Wailes family at Saltwell Towers. When I say with a twist; she ends up in “Alice’s Night Club” at the end – so the story was certainly a modern day fairytale!


Me at Enchanted Parks 2015

This blog post is for those who saw Enchanted Parks this year and want to look at the pieces again and for those who didn’t manage to go and even for those, who are yet to discover the after hour’s sculptural magic!


Fire Garden by pa-BOOM

As you can see from the above photo, this year Enchanted was made all the better with festive snow – it really added to the atmosphere.


Fire Garden by pa-BOOM

On both nights I attended, it was raining, so The Garden of Fire piece, made an almost hypnotising hissing sound, as every rain drop hit the fire.


The Cardsmen by Cocoloco

All around this year’s trail were the storytellers, who were dressed up covered in cards, guiding attendees on their way.


Tick Tock – WildStrawberry


Tick Tock – WildStrawberry


Tick Tock – WildStrawberry

The appearance of so many clock installations reminded me of the rabbits “I’m late, I’m late!” in the original story by Lewis Carroll. Each clock piece was set back and constantly changing; they looked beautiful on the night but ever so difficult to capture a good photo of them.


The Watcher May Enter by Chantal Powell


The Watcher May Enter by Chantal Powell

The above installation I believe represented entering into a new and strange world for Alice, as everything from this point, got very other worldly. This installation was very atmospheric!


Alice Through The Letterbox by Stuff and Things

This was the first of many talking letterboxes; you had to press the mushroom on the top for it to spring into action. Each story and monologue was in Alice’s voice (well the ones I listened to were anyway) and they complimented the surroundings and the story.


Ask Alice by Richard Broderick, Gilly Rogers and Carol Alevroyianni


Ask Alice by Richard Broderick, Gilly Rogers and Carol Alevroyianni

The Ask Alice piece felt like walking into a circus and being unsure of what was behind the entrance. Once through the doors, I found magical mirrors that made me look tall, short, fat, thin and everything in between. The mirrors went down a treat with the little kids and adults alike with giggling filling the air.

There was also video installations of a family 21st birthday, which i’m assuming was Alice’s!


Sweetie Beautiful – costume designed by Gilly Rogers

Still part of the Ask Alice piece, walking through the party, I bumped into this beautiful lady cupcake, an eccentric friend of Alice; her official name was Sweetie Beautiful and she was played by actor Jacqueline Philips! I was very jealous of the outfit – good enough to eat; she seemed delighted to have her photo taken when asked!


Saltwell Towers

This year Saltwell Towers installation was a lot more understated in comparison to 2014, but it was equally magical and it was about at this point, I decided to venture inside and join the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for some delicious treats.


Inside Saltwell Towers


My Smile by Aether & Hemera

Walking around the Park, there were lots of hidden Cheshire cat smiles in the trees and bushes.



Queen of Hearts by Stephen Newby

This piece, by Stephen Newby, our December Sculpture 30 artist of the month was absolutely spectacular visually. To describe it crudely, would be to say it was a giant disco ball in the shape of a heart, rotating. It was mesmerising.

The giant heart reflected light across the rose garden and there was a loud beating heart sound to accompany. As a regular festival goer, I think a piece like this, would be fantastic at Bestival, where Sculptural art work is a common part of the festival experience.

Stephen Newby on 9th December, met a troop of school children, from St Joseph’s Primary School in Gateshead and talked about his sculpture practice, his inspiration for the piece and Enchanted Parks as a whole. This is a crucial part of Enchanted, to engage with children in their early years, capture their imagination and demonstrate the importance of visual creativity as part of their learning.


Journey Through the Tunnel by SDNA

The above piece represented a magical journey and there was lots of visual representation of nature.


Chess Board by Stuff and Things

Once emerging from the tunnel, we stumbled upon this chess piece and another talking letterbox….


Clock of Hearts by Tweddle and Gumbley

This floating sculpture, in the lake showed, the clock striking 13 creating a sense of urgency, as Alice is rushing around the lake.


Veils by Lola Muance (from France)

We were then brought to a very abstract sculpture, representative of the different portals Alice could go through into different worlds and parallel universes…

The next major piece was the interactive Alice for iTernity by Katja Heitmann (from Netherlands). Participants were invited to hold up white boards, to move and find Alice, who was being visually projected and continuously moving.


Alice’s Nightclub by Mick Stephenson & Stu Langley


Alice’s Nightclub by Mick Stephenson & Stu Langley


Alice’s Nightclub by Mick Stephenson & Stu Langley


Alice’s Nightclub by Mick Stephenson & Stu Langley


Alice’s Nightclub by Mick Stephenson & Stu Langley

The final big pieces, were called Alice’s Nightclub. Very similar to approaching a real night club, approaching the piece, the familiar music echo could be heard. The piece was lively, although static and yes, I did have a quick disco, it felt appropriate.

The whole piece was made from reclaimed plastic bottles and lighting. It was fantastic. We then moved on to inside the club, with wooden sculptures, that weren’t a million miles away from Sculpture Day creations. Visually very impressive.

IMG_4541  IMG_4543

As our journey ended and Alice’s too, there were a final few clocks, that reminded us that in this world time has no meaning!

So that’s Enchanted over for another year and I have to say – it was a fantastic year. If you’d like to read up about the story or find out more about particular artists, visit here!

Over and out!