A £40,000 art project which takes inspiration from South Shields’s famous seafront is under way.
An outdoor gallery is going up at the town’s Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, featuring everything from chip forks to yarrow plants on sculptures, poetry, ceramic tiles and photography,
Billboard images are being installed over the next two months – featuring work by five northern artists, including South Shields poet Jake Campbell.
The contemporary artwork programme has started after South Tyneside Council secured funding from the Arts Council and the Sea Change initiative.
Coun Audrey McMillan, vice- chairman of the council’s foreshore steering group said: “We know that South Shields’s seafront is a special place.
“Inviting artists to explore the stories and life of our seafront gives us new ways of looking at and thinking about the beach, its history and its continuing value to the town.
“Presenting the artists’ works on such a big scale as public billboards creates a fabulous new outdoor gallery space.
“I really look forward to seeing how this exciting new project evolves over the coming months.”
The council is working alongside Grit & Pearl, a specialist public art company based in Newcastle.
Artists have spent time in and around South Shields, exploring local history and speaking to people about their personal memories and experiences of the seafront.
One of the billboards will feature images of chip forks, as a tribute to the town’s naval history, and local fish and chip shops.
The artwork will also include pictures of a yarrow, one of the natural plant species found on the dunes at South Shields.
A fictional newspaper, the South Shields Sandpaper, with stories evolved from research at local libraries, is also part of the gallery.
Another billboard is made up of portraits by Gateshead photographer Damien Wootten, and re-creates trips made to South Shields’ seafront by visitors from far and wide.
The outdoor gallery will also include a poem for South Shields by local writer Jake Campbell.
A special exhibition for the project will take place at the town’s Customs House, at Mill Dam, in June. A new smartphone application is also being launched, to guide people through the artwork and the heritage of the seafront.
The artwork follows a £2m project to transform South Shields Foreshore in 2010.
Coun McMillan added: “It is another exciting addition to the recent developments along the promenade, and one which we hope will be enjoyed by both local residents and visitors alike.”