Morecambe firm’s water sculpture is talk of the Tyne

Dated: 22/06/2018  The  Great Exhibition of the North launch on the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside. North News & Pictures Ltd.
Dated: 22/06/2018 The Great Exhibition of the North launch on the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside. North News & Pictures Ltd.
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A Morecambe-based firm has created a huge water sculpture on the River Tyne in Newcastle to celebrate the creativity of the north of England.

Water Sculptures, based at The White Lund Industrial Estate, was commissioned to build the 75m long installation as part of the city hosting the Great Exhibition of the North, which lasts for 80 days.

Alasdair Elliot (creative director) and William Elliot (technical director) on the right at the Water Sculptures workshops in Morecambe.

Alasdair Elliot (creative director) and William Elliot (technical director) on the right at the Water Sculptures workshops in Morecambe.

The installation – modelled on the iconic Angel of the North – is situated in the middle of the river between the Tyne Bridge and Millennium Bridge, overlooking The Sage building across the river in Gateshead.

Every hour between 10am and 11pm each day, the sculpture comes alive, firing out jets of water 25m into the air.

Alasdair Elliot, creative director at Water Sculptures, said it was technically the biggest job the company, which was founded in 1972, has ever created. A team of five people worked to get it up and running for four and a half weeks.

Alasdair said: “We were contacted around 18 months ago for some ideas on putting something large in the river between Tyne Bridge and the Millennium Bridge in front of The Sage.

The installation taking shape in the river Tyne

The installation taking shape in the river Tyne

“Our initial idea came from the Angel of the North, if you look at it in the river it’s a cross-section of that, but it slowly morphed into something more dynamic.

“It’s 75m long, with 33 jets firing at 25m in height, and one central one firing at 50m.

“It’s all choreographed and controlled by an electronic control panel which we monitor live from here in Morecambe. It took us six months to build the system and we were on site for four and a half weeks.”

The installation is anchored down by eight one tonne concrete anchors, but Alasdair said the engineers had to allow for a five metre tide, and for it to move up and down river by around 4m.

As day turns to night, the installation lights up, and there are also specially commissioned pieces of music that coincide with the water, which you can download and listen to on headphones while watching the display.

“We got another company to build a pontoon floating system, which we built our equipment into,” Alasdair said.

“It’s all powered by air rockets, essentially pushing water from the river out through the jets. We worked on it up until June 22 when the event opened.

“It’s technically the biggest job and the most exotic we’ve ever done,” Alasdair said.

“We’re very pleased with it. It was featured on the BBC’s Inside Out North East last week.

“It’s been a great experience, really, really, hard work, but worth it.”

Great Exhibition of the North is a free, summer-long celebration of the North of England’s pioneering spirit, with a programme of exhibits, live performances, displays of innovation and new artworks.

Water Sculptures, which was set up by Byll Elliot, and is still a family run business, has previously built installations for London Fasion Week and New York’s Radio City Spring Spectacular.

The company’s work has taken them all over the world, including as far away as South Africa, Hong Kong, Dubai, New York and Las Vegas and even Tripoli in Libya. Their fountains have been seen behind Whitney Houston, on television, in films, plays, at corporate events and at the wedding for the son of the King of Jordan.