A big-scale art project: Fish Quay artwork to be revived by volunteers

A local artist has reeled in a group of volunteers to help the council restore a fish-themed artwork overlooking North Shields Fish Quay.  

Nater’s Bank Seascape is a 30 square metre artwork made of stone, ceramic tiles and concrete, set into the side of a steep bank between Tyne Road and Union Quay.  

It was created by the Freeform Arts Trust to celebrate the first Fish Quay Festival in 1987 and the composition is dominated by two large fish, among various other highly coloured fish and sea creatures. 

But the once-vibrant artwork has crumbled over the years and now North Tyneside Council has commissioned one of the original creators, sculptor Richard Broderick, to come back and lead a project to restore it.

Richard, whose public art commissions include The Sand Castles on Whitley Bay seafront and other works at North Shields, South Shields, and Blyth, said: “We built the piece in 1987 from a design by Maggie Howarth who was famous for mosaicking.

“She came over and showed us some techniques. We were given a cement mixer and some spades and off we went. We worked for about three months and there was a lot of community involvement. The symbol of the two fish was taken from the fisherman’s association logo. 

“Now here we are back in 2019 with a chance to restore it to its former glory.”

Local resident Dave Armstrong floated the idea with North Tyneside Council and mobilised a group of around 20 volunteers to come along and help tidy up the site, with the first gathering on Saturday 16 March. 

Another of the original creators, mosaic artist Maureen Black, will also come back to work on the finer details of the project.

Councillor Sarah Day, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said: “The restoration of the Seascape piece is about the council working with local artists and the community to sustain and maintain our public art.

“It’s a great advertisement for how the community comes together to protect the things we value and it will give the area a lift. It’s wonderful to see the artwork coming back to life and I’d like thank everyone who is planning to come down to lend a hand.”

A Facebook page, North Shields Fishscape, has been set up for anyone wishing to volunteer. 

The restoration work is expected to be complete by April.