A series of striking sculptures are all set for a summer installation along one of the North East′s most stunning nature trails.

Picture caption: Graeme Hopper working on the sculptures.


Northumbrian Water has partnered with the community of Lambton in Northumberland, to create the sculptures that will sit proudly along the South Tyne Trail.


The water company has enlisted the skills of acclaimed local artist and blacksmith, Graeme Hopper, to design and build the 16 sculptures that have all been inspired by local landmarks and wildlife.


Graeme has worked closely with pupils from Whitfield Church of England School to create the designs, which he is currently making at his County Durham workshop.


Having recently installed a major new 12km water main along the periphery of the stunning South Tyne Trail countryside walk, Northumbrian Water engaged with the people whose homes and school border the land, to soften the impact of the mains work in this area of outstanding natural beauty.


Northumbrian Water Director of Corporate Affairs, Louise Hunter, said: "As part of our water mains work, which will help us deliver a secure, fresh water supply to homes and businesses in Tynedale, we needed to install 16 concrete valve marker posts along the stretch of the South Tyne Trail. As is the case with every project we undertake, we were very conscious of the impact this would have on the physical environment, particularly because this is such a naturally beautiful place.


"After speaking with residents we came up with the solution to work with the local community to create a series of sculptures sympathetic to the environment as a fitting replacement for the valve markers.


"This summer, we will replace the concrete posts with fantastic, metal sculptures depicting the animals, plants and structures unique to the South Tyne Trail."


Graeme Hopper has described the new sculptures as "deconstructed viaducts" - taking inspiration from the nearby Lambley Viaduct - which will add artistic flair to the countryside walk, while preserving its natural beauty.


The former apprentice blacksmith, said: "It was great to work with the kids at Whitfield and they had loads of ideas and great designs, which are now hanging in my workshop and inspiring the works, which I can′t wait to put in place.


"The viaduct structures themselves are all finished, I′m just inlaying them with animals, plants, landmarks…all the imagery that the kids came up with when we met."


Whitfield Church of England Primary Head of School, Katherine Ayre, said: "We are fortunate to be part of a strong community and are committed to serving it, and the surrounding area, by providing the best possible education for our children in partnership with one another.


"I am delighted our pupils have had the chance to work on this project that will enhance our community and become a source of pride for them and their families for generations."


Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The South Tyne Trail supports several species of breeding waders and provides feeding areas for many invertebrates, bats, birds and amphibians and voles.


Work will begin on the installation early in the summer, a phased programme that will also include plaques describing the work of art, what inspired it and its history.