Iron, salt, ships, chemicals – and now birds – A new arts project explores Teesside’s industrial landscape

Artist and poet Thomas Pearson uncovers the industrial heritage of Teesside in a new project, Brine Field, opening at RSPB Saltholme on 25 May.

12 white obelisks appear amid the reedbeds and wet grasslands of RSPB Saltholme as part of Thomas Pearson’s explorations of the environment, history and industrial heritage of the site. These striking sculptural monuments are designed to commemorate the salt found deep below this remarkable landscape, echoing the brine derricks which were used to extract it. Saltholme is now a popular destination for birdwatchers, local families and visitors to Teesside, and is home to numerous birds species including common terns, lapwings, peregrines and water rails.

Details here Edgelandia

Roseberry Topping


Since high enthroned on Ida's fateful plain 
Sat Odin, when the Northmen hither roved 
They chose this throne-like hill for him they loved, 
Here o'er Valhalla should the great god reign; 
Hard by ran Mimir's fountain, whither, fain 
To know if Heimdals warning could be proved, 
When Asgard trembled and the earth was moved 
By Ragnarok, went Odin, but in vain. 
Fountain of sorrow, hill-top dark with fate. 
The cloud pavilions reared upon thine height, 
The stars that tremble o'er thee, speak of woe; 
Yet this of solace have we, that we know 
Neither the day we shall be desolate, 
Nor that dread hour when o'er us falls the night. 

Sonnets Round the Coast by Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley. Pub. 1887
thanks to Graeme Chappell

Long Meg & Her Daughters


Long Meg Tree


A WEIGHT of awe, not easy to be borne,
Fell suddenly upon my Spirit–cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past,
When first I saw that family forlorn.
Speak Thou, whose massy strength and stature scorn
The power of years–pre-eminent, and placed
Apart, to overlook the circle vast–
Speak, Giant-mother! tell it to the Morn
While she dispels the cumbrous shades of Night;
Let the Moon hear, emerging from a cloud;
At whose behest uprose on British ground
That Sisterhood, in hieroglyphic round
Forth-shadowing, some have deemed, the infinite
The inviolable God, that tames the proud!

William Wordsworth 1833

Sampo: Heading Further North


In this collective collection Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby retell and remix the mythical Finnish epic, Kalevala, in a molten flow of lyrical and brutal language, adding their own characters alongside the questing heroes of the myth cycle, weaving together images from their vagabond voyages around the world before bringing it all back home to the post-industrial landscape of Teesside that has spawned and inspired them.

Allan Tofts Prehistoric Rock Art

Allan Tofts i
Allan Tofts iiiAllan Tofts ii
Allan Tofts

The Sculptured Rocks

In this design you petrified the language of your soul –

Your own symbolic logic;

Linked a little world with universe,

Arrested time and space.

You saw the cycle of your birth and death with clarity

As sun and moon spun round,

As buds burst into leaves and fell upon the nourished ground.

A rhythmic pulse beat out like water flow,

Rippled from your centre to the stars.

The living rocks bear traces of belief.

Knowing all you used to know.

The curlew cry spills out

A plaintive, bubbling message to the moors

Above the desecrated graves and broken stones

As it has always done.

Its curved beak swings down from the sun

To execute parabolas in heather-scented air,

Or sink in silence to an unresponsive earth.

Stan Beckensall