The Florid Burn
Grimsey, Tom (2005) The Florid Burn Leazes Park, Newcastle, 'Hidden Rivers' Newcastle CC Publication, Newcastle, UK.
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Grimsey’s commission for 'Florid Burn' was an international two-stage public art competition led by Newcastle City Council for Leazes Park adjacent to the city centre, and was planned to coincide with the British Art Show as part of their city of culture bid. It opened on 21st September 2005. Grimsey was selected from an international field. Funded by the City and the Arts Council, it was commissioned in 2004 and took 18 months to complete at a cost of over £120,000. Public consultation with the local community groups and schools and collaboration with the parks manager and the landscape architects for the project were central to its development and long-term survival. The ‘Friends of Leazes Park’ were a formidable and active community group that had fought to retain the park within the city and were committed to enhancing its environment and revealing the Lort Burn, an underground river that feeds the lake in the park, and which formed part of the City’s larger Hidden Rivers project. Strips of meadow planting inspired by Piet Odulf and Noel Kingsbury’s ‘New Perennial Garden', are alternated with strips of blue terrazzo set with ‘pretty’ coloured ceramic and mirror stainless steel flowers to echo the path of the river beneath and accentuate seasonal change. Grimsey’s chosen visual language is intentionally literal in order to reinforce the distinction between nature and artifice. The route begins with a ‘pool’ incorporating a large steel plume and splash sculptures for play and seating and runs down through the park to the city, with sculptural devices marking the moments where the burn enters and leaves the lake. Grimsey’s project was included in the Observer’s ’25 great outdoor arts events.
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