New project highlights the ever-changing environment of South Tyneside's coastline
Visitors to one of South Tyneside’s most popular beauty spots can learn more about the ever-changing environment of the coast, thanks to a new project.
The National Trust has teamed up with the University of Sunderland to raise public awareness coastal erosion.
Erica Donnelly, an illustration and design graduate, was matched with the Trust team at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas through the university’s Robson Creative Internship Award.
She met Trust staff at the lighthouse before going on to design an interpretation panel explaining the process of erosion on the coastline.
Dougie Holden, National Trust ranger at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, said: “By shaping the cliffs and rocks, erosion has provided ideal nesting sites for many species of seabirds including thousands of kittiwakes, as well as herring gulls, fulmar, cormorants and razorbills.
"It’s so important to highlight the dangers of rock falls and cliffs collapsing too. It’s part of an ongoing natural phenomenon so it’s impossible to predict exactly when it will happen and we all need to be aware when walking on the cliff tops, or on the beach below that they may be unstable.
"We’d strongly advise everyone to respect the safety barriers, stay several metres away from the base of cliffs and keep out of the sea caves, no matter how tempting it is to take a closer look or shelter inside. Anyone who sees somebody in danger on the coast should dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Professor Kevin Petrie, head of the School of Art & Design at University of Sunderland, said: “Our Art & Design programmes are focused on how creativity can be used to benefit society and Erica’s project with The National Trust is a great example of how illustration and design can be used by a talented artist to communicate an important message about our beautiful local coastline around Sunderland.
"At the University of Sunderland we are very much careers and professions facing and our Robson Creative Internship programme is offering students the chance to get real world experience to build their creative portfolios.
"The programme is funded from a generous bequest from the Robson family who had a passion for art and design and we’d like to acknowledge that support. We would also like to thank The National Trust for the foresight to use illustration and design skills for this project."
Louise Thain, programming and partnerships officer for the South of Tyne property group of the Trust, said: “We embraced the opportunity to work with a talented young designer and partner with the University of Sunderland.
"Erica had some brilliant ideas and has done a very professional job, it’s a really well designed and informative panel.
"The story of coastal erosion is an important one to tell, especially to anyone visiting the area. It explains why we have such a scenic and rugged coastline on South Tyneside, with its characteristic cliffs, rock stacks and sea caves.”
She added: "Local people will know how much the iconic Marsden Rock has changed within living memory; and it will keep on changing.”
Visitors can find the new panel next to the England Coast Path on The Leas, just north of Souter Lighthouse.