Unbeknown to many, Gateshead Riverside Park is the birthplace of cultural regeneration in the UK. Experiencing the economic and social impacts of post-industrial decline, in the late 1980s the town embarked on what is now a typical path of cultural regeneration. It hosted the National Garden Festival in 1990 (a Conservative government initiative to transform the economies and identities of declining places), transformed the former industrial Baltic flour mill into a contemporary art gallery (2002), constructed the landmark Sage Gateshead (now The Glasshouse International Centre for Music) in 2004 and Millennium Bridge (2001).
Gateshead is probably best known for Antony Gormley’s emblematic Angel of the North (1998), itself embodying a phoenix-like rise from a former coal site, and yet what is less known is the pioneering and forward-thinking scheme of public art that gave the council of this small town the confidence to embark on what was to be an era-defining scheme. The site of the Garden Festival and much public art has since been neglected but is now itself subject to regeneration. In this talk, Vee Pollock (Dean of Culture and Creative Arts and Professor of Public Art, Newcastle University) discusses the innovative approaches being taken to secure the park’s future.