Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (26 November) visited part of a major art installation celebrating the region’s landscape and heritage.
The Tees Sculpture Trail is made up of 25 artworks by five artists, who have each created one per borough, and follows the path of the River Tees through the region, from Piercebridge in Darlington to its mouth, with sculptures in Coatham and Seaton Carew.
Mayor Houchen took to Redcar’s South Tees Viewpoint to check out Crossing Points by local artist Andrew McKeown. The piece, inspired by the river’s bridges and bends, was created from galvanised steel and bear the words “Where great ships were built, and the steel industry roared”, to tie in to the history of its location.
Andrew was born on Teesside in the 1970s – the son of a lifelong steelworker and schoolteacher – and his work includes many sculptures made from iron and steel, two materials which have also helped shape the Tees Valley.
The project was commissioned by Groundwork NE and Cumbria’s River Tees Rediscovered programme, which aims to develop the river and its surrounding area through conservation and community activities, celebrating and protecting the landscape.
It has been backed by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority with funds from the £1.5million River Tees Initiative programme. It has also been part-funded by the European Agricultural fund for Rural Development and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Mayor Houchen said: “These fantastic sculptures, dotted right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, are a reminder of our great region, its rich history and how the river and its people helped shape the world. They are another way we’re making our communities better, helping to educate and make people think in the process.
“More than that, taking part in the trail is a great opportunity for people to get out and about, exploring our towns, villages, parks and beauty spots, and they will help attract even more visitors to see what we have to offer. In the process, they can support our brilliant local businesses and help boost our recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.”
Groundwork Programme Manager Lucy Chapman said: “We’re delighted to be involved with such a positive project encouraging people from across the Tees Valley and further afield to visit the River Tees and celebrate our unique landscape. Some of the pieces are easy to find but some are off the beaten track where visitors will discover some of the hidden gems that Teesside has to offer.”
Sculptor Andrew McKeown said: “The piece at South Tees Viewing Point is even more special to me as I grew up in South Bank and remember exploring the derelict steel works and jetties along this stretch of the river when I was a teenager, I’m sure these memories have influenced my work as a sculptor.’’
For more information on the Tees Sculpture Trail and other things to do around the region, visit www.enjoyteesvalley.com .