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Flash@Hebburn

Hebburn Riverside Park 

2009 

In 2001 I was invited to propose a piece of art work as part of the Art on the Riverside Project for the Riverside Park at Hebburn. After an initial period of research and consultation, I became aware of the almost invisible industrial history of the area, and the pride that the population felt towards their community and its past. I began to realise that in the past Hebburn had been an important industrial centre with a large number of heavy industries: - coal mining, ship building, steel works, chemical works, coke production, high voltage electrical engineering, along with many others.

Flashes of light could be associated with all these industries whether it be sparks, flashes of the arc welding or the dramatic lights of the ship yards on both sides of the River Tyne. I also identified that the industries of Hebburn had in their time all been at the cutting edge of innovation. I decided that flashes of light could be seen as a common link between all the main industries, I decided to propose a work that would use sequences of flashes. The installation would use light sequences, that have been developed by local groups to represent what Hebburn and the Riverside Park means to them.

Seven and half years latter, Flash@Hebburn consists of 12 x 8 meter high columns which use solar powered, LED, radio controlled technology reflecting Hebburn's long history of being a place of innovation and experimentation. Every 15 minutes during daylight hours a 30 second sequence of flashs is activated . Each evening two of the 15 minute sequences as developed by the groups involved, are selected at random and performed. Once a year a special midnight sequence will celebrate New Years Eve, to coincide with the ships sirens and flares along the river. This gives Hebburn a distinct identity from other riverside communities along the Tyne, which will be visible from as far as Newcastle, Gateshead and Wallsend.

Notes Charles Quick

www.southtyneside.info/article/8780/Flash--Hebburn

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/apr/01/tyneside-flash-hebburn

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