We’re delighted to have put the finishing touch on the blossom circle in Exhibition Park. Working closely with Urban Green Newcastle, our in-house team have created two beautiful bespoke benches and a nature-themed sculpture to form the centrepiece of the Blossom Together circle.
The installation of these artworks has been the final piece to complete the Blossom Together project. The project saw 26 Tai Haku cherry blossom trees planted in Exhibition Park in 2021. Blossom Together was funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and delivered in partnership with the National Trust. The blossom circle was unveiled by the Lord Mayor last April in a ceremony on National Trust’s Blossom Watch Day. As part of the opening, Urban Green Newcastle also delivered a series of seven blossom-themed activity days for children and young people across the city in the Easter Holidays. The sessions connected over 1,500 children and young people to nature and blossom.
The benches and sculpture have been placed in Exhibition Park this month in advance of this year’s blossom season. This year’s Blossom Watch Day is taking place on Saturday 29 April. Urban Green Newcastle will soon be announcing more family fun activity days this Easter which are not to be missed!
Designing the pieces
David Gross and Mark Fox from Tyne Housing’s progression team, as well as Angela Bromage, a forest school practitioner, worked on the planning and creation of the final designs. They collaborated with workshop attendees to create the bespoke pieces. They were created to reflect the peaceful and reflective nature of the blossom circle. In November, David and Mark worked with NHS staff and park users, engaging them in the artwork design and look and feel of the benches.
David explains how the final seat designs reflect the feedback and incorporate elements for both visitors and nature. “We crafted the seats using layers of thick oak slabs, so the joins in the timber can provide shelter for pollinating insects.
“We also designed the seats with accessibility in mind. They are slightly higher than an average seat and have angled backrests for comfort. Each seat also has one high, carved armrest to provide a firm support and aid those who might have difficulty getting up, as well as an open end to provide accessibility for wheelchair users.”
He also described the detail of the sculpture and his and Mark’s excitement at seeing the piece in situ. “A large carving of a hand with a butterfly stands in the centre of the circular space. The roughness, cracks and scarring on the hand contrasts with the butterfly’s smoothness and delicate structure. We worked on the various elements of the installation with attendees in the Tyne Housing workshop for almost five months. It’s amazing to see it complete and ready for the public to enjoy.”
Working in Partnership
Jack White, Community Engagement Coordinator at Urban Green Newcastle, is also delighted to see the unique pieces take pride of place within the park. He said: “The blossom benches and sculpture form quite literally the cherry on the cake for the Blossom Together project. Park users will be able to enjoy a moment of quiet reflection and solitude when sat on the seats.
It has been amazing to work with David and Mark at Tyne Housing. Especially to see the passion they have for their work.”
The Tyne Housing not-for-profit workshop is based in Byker, Newcastle. They run regular sessions for people experiencing homelessness or insecure housing. Bryan Beverley, Wellbeing and Learning Manager at Tyne Housing, said. “We’re delighted to have been commissioned by the team at Urban Green to help breathe new life into Exhibition Park, and we hope the local community enjoys using the new seating in this beautiful open space for years to come.
“Projects like this enable us to continue delivering valuable sessions at the workshop, supporting vulnerable adults to develop their confidence and skills in a practical and creative environment.”