City centre landmark set to dazzle

Photo showing what the painting will look like on the side of the building.
What the painting on Bewick Court will look like when completed.

A high profile, high rise Newcastle landmark is being given a dazzling new look.

The Bewick Court flats, on John Dobson Street, will be the blank canvas for a new artwork which will link artist and engraver Thomas Bewick – whom the building is named after – with Newcastle’s shipbuilding heritage and the city’s passion for football.

The artwork, entitled Two For Joy, focuses on the use of dazzle camouflage to create two magpies. It will be mostly black and white but will also incorporate the vibrant blues and greens which can be seen in magpies’ tail feathers.

Dazzle painting was a camouflage technique developed for warships in the early 20th century – some of which were built and painted in Newcastle – in order to make it difficult for an enemy to estimate a ship’s direction of travel, speed and range.

The work will be painted on to the concrete base of Bewick Court – the tallest building in the city centre at 253 feet – which sits above John Dobson Street, between Durant Road and New Bridge Street West.

Local artist Colin Davies was commissioned by Newcastle City Council and worked with residents and local businesses to choose the final design.

Colin put forward three options and met local people at a drop in session in the City Library to talk about the designs before inviting them to vote in person or online for their favourite.

Colin said: “The magpie not only represents a subtle reference to the work of Thomas Bewick, who is known for his engravings of birds, but is also close to the heart of many in the city through its association with Newcastle United.

“We were also very keen to reflect the city’s shipbuilding history by using the dazzle camouflage technique in the piece.

“We worked with local residents and nearby businesses to get their opinion on the design and we had a really positive response.

“We’re really proud to play a part in the transformation of the area and to work together with Newcastle City Council and the local community to create a new landmark in the city centre.”

The work is the finishing touch to the wider improvement scheme on John Dobson Street, which includes new protected cycle lanes, wider pavements, better crossing points and intelligent traffic signals, which work in sync to keep traffic moving.

The city council secured funding for the John Dobson Street project from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund. The funding can only be used on schemes to improve cycling infrastructure and works linked to those schemes.

The artwork will help to further enhance the area, making it look and feel more pleasant and, by incorporating the Newcastle’s heritage and love of football, will reflect the pride people have in their city.

The painting will be carried out over eight days, starting on Sunday 19 March and finishing on Sunday 26 March.

In order to allow the work on the section of the building directly above the road to be done safely the road will need to be closed to traffic on the two Sundays.

The closure will only apply to the section of John Dobson Street underneath Bewick Court – from Durant Road to New Bridge Street West. It will be in force between 8am and 8pm on the Sundays (March 19 and 26) only.

On weekdays and on Saturday the road will be open as normal for vehicles.