Ex-Pit Village to Get ‘Gateway’ from Top Sculptor

Ex-Pit Village to Get 'Gateway' from Top Sculptor
Ushaw Moor

A County Durham former pit village will soon have a stunning ‘gateway’-type sculpture in its centre. Ushaw Moor will host the opening ceremony of the sculpture, created by local artist Graeme Hopper, at 11 am on Monday 14th November.

The sculpture is the result of a long process of collaboration between Mr Hopper and the local community. The process was set in motion by Brandon and Byshottles Parish Council, who wished to commission a piece of public art to honour the area’s mining heritage.

Children from the village’s two primary schools – St Joseph’s and Silver Trees – have contributed many ideas for the sculpture. The Mid-Durham Area Action Partnership has also been involved in the scheme.

The sculpture will be based around a replica pit wheel, which will form the ‘archway’. It will also include metal poppies as a tribute to villagers who have lost their lives in various conflicts. In addition, the sculpture will incorporate a feature on which the village’s Christmas tree can be mounted each December.

The cost of the sculpture is £18,000.

Graeme Hopper started out by serving a four-year apprenticeship as a blacksmith. He worked in light and heavy industry before starting his own business in 1990. His studio/forge is near Durham City.

He has appeared on the BBC’s ‘Small Town Gardens’ and ‘Do It Yourself’ programmes. Graeme also has a sculpture in the Royal Collection. It was placed there by Prince Charles after Graeme presented it to him as a gift during a royal visit to the north east.

Work on Ushaw Moor’s sculpture has now begun on a site in Whitehouse Lane. Councillor Susan Nelson, the chair of the parish council, will officially declare the sculpture open on the 14th.

The ceremony will be attended by pupils from the two primary schools, as well as representatives from the developers Gleeson Homes and Taylor Wimpey. Both these companies have recently built homes in Ushaw Moor. County Councillors will also be present as well as any villagers who wish to attend.

On Friday 2nd December at 3.30 pm another ceremony will take place: the lighting of Ushaw Moor’s Christmas tree, mounted – for the first time – on the village’s impressive new sculpture.

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