Artists and their apprentices have collaborated to create two limited edition artworks that are sure to become part of local history.
As part of the Transporter Bridge centenary celebrations, which are funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, artists Adam Baldwin and Vicky Holbrough have helped six talented young people to produce unique pieces of abstract art.
Just 100 of the limited edition pieces – each inspired by the Transporter - will be produced.
The pieces are the result of the Gallery TS1 Arts Apprenticeship Scheme, a pioneering creative opportunity in which young people not in education, employment or training, work alongside artists to create saleable artworks.
Over a two-week period, the apprentices worked with the artists to produce an unusual iron cast of the Transporter’s controller and handmade resin casts from cogs on the iconic structure.
Adam explained: “We walked over the Transporter Bridge to get a feeling for the structure and its history, but also to make small clay impressions of aesthetic parts of the bridge that would give a good definition, would tell a story and reflect on the bridge’s engineering and industrial heritage.”
Plaster castings of the clay impressions were produced, from which the apprentices chose a pattern produced from the Transporter’s old controller, which operated the bridge for 99 years until its replacement last year.
The finished pieces were cast in iron by Middlesbrough’s William Lane Foundry, once one of 140 local foundries but now the only one still in operation and based close to the Transporter itself.
The apprentices also worked with Vicky and creative writer Laura Degnan to create the resin-cast relief sculpture inspired by the Transporter blue and the structure’s centenary.
Vicky said: “The cable wheels, which feature in the design, represent the 'heart' of the bridge, taking people across the river for 100 years. The scroll-like element of the sculpture stems from a commemorative theme as well as traditional tattoo designs that influenced the apprentices.”
“The limited editions are history and art in one,” added Adam. “Producing them was a wonderful experience for the young people and I think one or two of them have the talent to become artists in their own right.”
Poet Ian Horn and ceramicist Claude Frere-Smith have also produced beautiful centenary commemorative plates from locally-sourced clay inspired by the local heritage of Linthorpe Pottery.
The limited edition plates carry Ian’s poetry that already adorns a wall on the route to the Riverside Stadium:
“Where alchemists were born below Cleveland's hills,
A giant blue dragonfly across the Tees reminds us every night,
We built the world.
Every metropolis came from Ironopolis.”
All of the limited edition artwork is available from the TS1 Gallery opposite the Empire night club on Corporation Road, the Town Hall Box Office and the Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre. The iron and resin casts are £40 each, while the plates are £80.