South Shields beach will be used to highlight coastal erosion in new art project

Little Haven Beach, South Shields
Little Haven Beach, South Shields

A South Shields beach is set to be turned into a mountainous landscape as part of a touring art project.

First There Is A Mountain has been designed by Katie Paterson to highlight the UK’s eroding coastline.

Katie Paterson.

Katie Paterson.

Visitors to Little Haven Beach will be invited to arm themselves with spades and come along to be part of the event when it arrives in South Shields on September 8 next year.

Buckets created in the form of world mountains will be used in order to make the mountainous landscape.

Each pail will be a scale model of five mountains; Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Shasta (USA), Mount Fuji (Asia), Stromboli (Europe), and Uluru (Oceania).

Each mountain range was selected through research using data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topgraphy Mission and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

The artwork invites the public to slow down. To consider the interconnectedness of the world.

Katie Paterson

The 37-year-old artist, from Scotland, said: “From early childhood we understand that sand marks time.

“First There Is A Mountain builds upon this concept, making us aware of mountain rocks’ erosion over millennia, rock shifting across Earth over continent’s evolution, forming unique fingerprints of sand across our modern coastline.

“The artwork invites the public to slow down. To consider the interconnectedness of the world, its immensity conveyed in miniature. Connecting the archipelago via one water, one tide, one sand - carrying mountains of sand across time. The extraordinary existing in ordinary things, everywhere.”

Those taking part will help sculpt the beach into dozens of mountains made of sand to form micro-geologies, which will then be monitored against the tidal times.

One of the sculptures

One of the sculptures

They will be given the specially crafted buckets, made from 100% fermented plant starch, to create the masterpieces.

The event will be started with poetry designed to connect with the area, its people, its history and wider geological context.

Little Haven Beach is one of 25 locations to be chosen throughout the UK where the project will be carried out between March and September.

First There Is A Mountain enables a continuation of Paterson’s enquiry into a recalibration of our understanding of space, time and place.

It is being supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and Arts Council England.