Giant new artwork celebrates the heroes of Byker

byker heroes art work
12 June 2014

Singer Cheryl Cole, a Hong Kong civil rights activist and the inventor of reinforced concrete star in a giant new artwork celebrating the people who have emerged from the East end of Newcastle to make their mark on the world.

Also featured in Heroes of Byker are playwright Lee Hall, Victorian world-champion cyclist George Waller and photo-historian Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, who still lives nearby and will be there to see the artwork launched.

Artist Edwin Mingard created the 11-metre long Heroes of Byker with the help of a dig through the history books and engagement events with young people in Byker and surrounding communities.

He said: “I loved my time living in Byker, and anyone living here knows about the fantastic things people do for each other every day.  People from Byker and the east end have made their mark on the world too, throughout the centuries, just as people from all over the world have moved here and made a difference.

“I wanted to celebrate just a few of those people, to give kids from Byker a little daily reminder that they can do anything they put their minds to, and be in good company. “

The artwork is the latest commission in the Next Stop Byker programme supported by Newcastle City Council, Arts Council England and Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro.  

It is the fourth of six new works which will appear at the station, used by 800,000 passengers a year.

Newcastle City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, Cllr Hazel Stephenson, said: "The Metro station at Byker has a reputation all of its own for striking public art, and the Heroes of Byker only adds to that.

"Not only does it brighten the area but it shows the rich seam of talented people that have been born and raised in the East End from social reformers to pop stars, and photographers to sporting champions.

"It's great that with trains passing so regularly through the station thousands of passengers will see this tremendous piece of public art."

Huw Lewis, Head of Communications at Nexus, said: “We have so far seen four artists work in four very different and striking ways to throw new light on what it means to be from the communities that surround Byker station.

“You can’t help but stop and look as Heroes of Byker tells how people from this part of Newcastle have made their mark on the world down the centuries.”

Byker Metro has paid host to a wide range of work since 2005 including internationally-famous urban artists, community projects and photo exhibits by Metro passengers.

The history of the station and its artworks can be found on a Facebook page ‘next stop Byker’ which will also track the progress of the new projects unfolding in the months ahead.

There are now almost 40 permanent and temporary art commissions in and around Tyne and Wear’s Metro stations, installed over 35 years as part of the Nexus Art on Transport programme.

© 2019 Nexus Tyne and Wear - Public Transport and Local Information.