NE1 has unveiled the latest addition to its NE1 Summer in the City activity programme, a striking work of art on a historic staircase on King Street, next to Queen Street on Newcastle’s Quayside.
NE1 worked with Unit 44 to commission internationally-renowned French painter, muralist, and street artist Florence Blanchard to transform the staircase with one of her signature works of art.
Installed and unveiled recently, the artwork consists of an abstract, colourful vinyl painting in purples, pinks and blues which transforms the staircase and provides a striking addition to the area, changing the view of the stairs from the Quayside.
The artwork reflects NE1’s wider aims of improving connections between the Quayside and the city, and of reintegrating the numerous staircases that stretch up from the Quayside into day-to-day use.
The artwork has been warmly welcomed by local businesses and the public, and will remain in place for an extended period into the autumn.
NE1 worked in collaboration with Unit 44 in Newcastle and with local businesses on Queen Street to devise a brief for the work of art and to choose an artist.
Commenting on the installation, Ben Whitfield, Director of Communications at NE1 said: “We are delighted with how the stairs have been transformed and how Florence responded to the brief. This is the latest in a series of summertime trials and installations on the Quayside designed to bring extra vibrancy and colour to the area to encourage more people to visit. Florence nailed the brief and has created an eye-catching, highly photographable public artwork that is already inspiring ‘Oohs and Aaahs’ from visitors and passers-by.
“One of the key themes that emerged from our research and work with the internationally renowned Gehl Architects was the need to improve connections between the Quayside and the rest of the city. There are a number of historic staircases leading down to the Quayside that are often overlooked, slightly neglected, and do not get used as much as they could, many people don’t even know they exist. The artwork aims to change this by providing a highly visible and striking addition to the cityscape, adding drama and vibrancy to the area while remaining sympathetic to the history and heritage of the listed buildings surrounding the stairs.
“The colourful artwork accentuates the already beautiful buildings and frames the stairs leading to All Saints church. We hope people will visit and share their photos on social media, tagging us, @newcastlene1.”
Commenting on the artwork and their involvement in the project, Danny Hughes from Unit 44 said:
"When you sit in a meeting and curating a staircase is brought up you jump at that challenge. In a city full of hidden gems we believe these will polish up nicely and beautifully join the city centre to the Quayside. We immediately thought of Florence because of her mastery over colour and shape, we knew she could attack the abstract brief, whilst creating something both sympathetic and striking in-situ of the staircase.
“We had absolute confidence, we can’t wait to have a little dance on those steps.”
Jaf Ali, Managing Director of Khai Khai restaurant said: “We love the installation on the steps next to our restaurant. We have enjoyed working with NE1 on this project and are proud that they have listened to our views and incorporated our suggestions. The mural adds a great splash of colour to the area and makes it a real focal point. We are thankful to NE1 for making the Quayside a priority, and widening the focus to include streets which are set back from the main riverside but are still part of the historic Quayside. From the response to date, we know people are going to love it.”
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