Work is underway to install six new pieces of public art as part of a major transformation of a world-famous South Tyneide street.
South Tyneside Council is carrying out a revamp of Ocean Road in South Shields, which is well known for its array of restaurants, guest houses and B&Bs.
The improvements include three large sculptures being placed at key junctions along Ocean Road to act as ‘gateway’ features.
Two of the three-metre high creations are figurative sculptures of a boy stood on fish with a plinth engraved with ‘I Can See the Sea’ and 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. These smaller 1.2m bollards are being located at the end of roads closed off to traffic.
Coun Audrey McMillan, vice chair of South Tyneside’s Foreshore Steering Group, said: “Ocean Road is an important cultural asset which attracts millions of visitors every year. It also acts as a key link between South Shields town centre and our stunning seafront.
It’s wonderful to see the new look Ocean Road taking shape.Coun Audrey McMillian, said
“It is wonderful to see the new look Ocean Road taking shape and we are especially excited to see these new art features being lifted into place. The larger pieces pay tribute to the borough’s rich culture and heritage while also acting as signposts to locations in the town, and the sets of bollards add a fun element to the street. They look fantastic and are sure to create a talking point among residents and visitors to Ocean Road for many years to come.”
The six pieces have been produced by celebrated UK stone sculptor Michael Disley. He gave the local people the opportunity to get involved in the design process through a series of community engagement events at Bents Park Fun Day and Marine Park Primary School, as well as encouraged people to try out some stone carving for themselves.
Coun McMillan added: “Michael’s beautifully crafted sculptures can be seen in towns and cities across the country and we are delighted to now have his work in Ocean Road. The pieces will not only help to enhance the street scene but complement some of the wonderful new public art recently installed at South Shields seafront as part of the new Littlehaven Promenade and Seawall development.”
Mr Disley said: “I was delighted to be asked to create these pieces for Ocean Road. I feel it is really important to make public art accessible to as many people as possible so it’s not only great that people can now see these sculptures in the area, it was fantastic to involve local people in the project. Through the workshops we encouraged the community to learn more about the art of stone carving and also gave them the opportunity to influence the designs for new sculptures that celebrate elements of their own local culture, history and heritage.”
Work continues on Phase Two of the Ocean Road regeneration project which involves improving the appearance of the street between Baring Street and Lawe Road. This part of the project is expected to be completed in the autumn.
Once the scheme is completed, Ocean Road will have a new road surface, high quality paving, boulevard-style rows of hornbeam trees, better positioned parking bays as well as the new public art.
The improvements aim to help make the street more pedestrian friendly and more inviting for residents and visitors and to help draw more seafront visitors to the town centre. The latest improvements take the council one step closer to realising its ambition to make South Shields the region’s premier coastal resort.
For further information about the regeneration of South Shields visit www.southshields365.co.uk