Tyne & Wear

Examples of post-war public art in the North East 'saved for future'

Spiral Nebula Image copyright Historic England
Image caption Spiral Nebula by Geoffrey Clark was created in 1962 and stands outside Newcastle University

Examples of post-war public art have been listed by the government to "protect them for future generations".

The five North East sculptures were all erected after 1945 and include one which doubles as a ventilation shaft for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Historic England described the works as "striking examples" of how art became a symbol of revival after World War Two.

The announcement coincides with an exhibition in Newcastle exploring the region's lost and damaged post-war art.

Image copyright Historic England
Image caption Newcastle's Parson's Polygon by David Hamilton was commissioned in 1982 as part of the Art on the Metro scheme
Image copyright Historic England
Image caption Derwent Walk Express by Andy Frost was erected in 1986 to celebrate Gateshead's railway heritage

The five pieces are already Grade II Listed, but have now been given further protection by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport after being recommended by Historic England.

A Historic England spokeswoman said: "These pieces depict a range of themes each encapsulating different aspects of the North East's diverse identity.

"Two in central Newcastle are among the newly listed sculptures. Parson's Polygon on Blackett Street is an intriguing sculpture with a hidden function as it doubles up as a ventilation shaft for the underground Metro.

"A few streets away is another important sculpture made of folded metal with a protruding antenna, it was erected to complement the modernist architecture of Newcastle University.

"Most were part of a movement which saw art and sculpture being used to bring public spaces back to life after the Second World War as England repaired shattered towns and cities.

"But like many others, some were unpopular, being seen as too unsettling or too avant-garde.

"Only now are they being recognised as part of our irreplaceable national collection of public art."

Image copyright Historic England
Image caption Market Woman by Hans Schwarz was made for a shopping centre in Wallsend in 1966
Image copyright Edward Nicholl
Image caption The Easington Colliery Disaster Memorial commemorates the loss of 83 men in 1951

Heritage Minster Tracey Crouch added: "It's vital that important parts of our heritage are secured for generations to come, so I'm delighted that these fantastic post-war public sculptures, which transformed public spaces across the North after the Second World War, will now be protected. "

Some of the stories behind the sculptures feature in an exhibition at Bessie Surtees House in Newcastle which runs until 23 December.

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