The Riverside Sculpture Trail was created between 1991 and 2001, and stretches from Wearmouth Bridge to Roker Beach. There are lots of sculptures and they make the walk much more interesting. Nearest to the bridge is an enormous metal tree on a pedestal, made from materials from the shipyards that used to be on this site. The tree's shadow is actually in the shape of an old shipbuilding crane and also forms a maze! Moving past some giant stone nuts and bolts, a massive pile of books lies outside the university library. The sculpture is entitled Pathways of Knowledge. The end book is open. On one leaf there is a carving of Bede and on the other an inlaid glass mosaic taken from an illustrated manuscript from St Peter's Church. The monastery at St Peter's was historically a centre of learning; the sculpture commemorates this, and also reflects the fact that the university library is on this site today.
Past the National Glass Centre, in amongst bushes and plants is the Red House, a stone interior of an entire house complete with chairs, a fireplace, plates and pans. Down near the Marina is a series of doors with stained glass windows. The sculpture is entitled Passing Through. The three doors represent the past, the present and the future, the present being the only one open. In order to bring the 'future' door on the wall into form, you have to sit on the bench available and look through the keyhole of the 'past' door, for the optical illusion to be brought to life. The gates and tree guards are made of metal oars.
Around the Marina is Taking Flight, which shows in five stages a Cormorant taking off. Finally down on the first bit of beach, is a series of massive concrete bowls, filled to different levels to show the phases of the moon. The Sculpture Trail is a perfect way to pass some time on a sunny day. The sculptures are fun and draw attention to the city's heritage and how it is changing in the modern world.
Second Sun is the first phase of a major new artwork which was introduced on St Peter's Promenade in 2009 as part of the Riverside Sculpture Trail to mark the end of the C2C cycle route in Sunderland. Second Sun is part of a strategic public art and landscaping design programme, led by Sunderland City Council.
Second Sun which was created by Andrew Small consists of an aluminium sphere supported on three legs featuring animated images of the sun taken from a solar satellite. Those who study the artwork as they pass will see the sun rotate, while those who choose to stare directly at Second Sun will see it in 3D. Second Sun greets cyclists as they reach the final leg of their journey under the Wearmouth Bridge.
Second Sun has been accompanied by a series of waymarkers which have been placed along the final mile of the C2C, one of the UK’s most popular cycle routes. Each waymarker features images of planets in the solar system, sited at relative distances from the Sun with a countdown to the end of the route.
An artpiece by artist Andrew Small entitled C marks the end of both the C2C and the W2W cycle route. Designed as a large granite monolith, the work frames Roker Lighthouse, firmly placing the scuplture in it's Sunderland location. The mirror polished finish reflects the nearby surroundings and has star constellations etched into the surface. The work was inspired by ideas that related to Bede, Europe's greatest 8th Century scholar, who calculated the motion of the Sun and the Moon to set the date of Easter which is the method that is still in place today.
Bede was born in either 672 or 673AD around Wearmouth, now known as Monkwearmouth, in Sunderland. Bede was the greatest scholar of his day. He wrote scientific, historical and theological works.His most famous work, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum or The Ecclesiastical History of the English People was completed in 731 AD. This is now regarded by modern scholars as the authoritative account of Christianity in England from its inception to Bede's own time.This reference in the sculpture to Bede also helps to link the artwork to the local area and is another way of supporting the nomination of the twin Anglo-Saxon monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow for World Heritage Site status in 2011.