NOD TO HISTORY: Steve Messam came up with idea of the arch after learning it was used to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 60th year on the throne				    TM pic
NOD TO HISTORY: Steve Messam came up with idea of the arch after learning it was used to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 60th year on the throne TM pic

A SEVEN-metre wool covered ‘Jubilee Arch’ is be installed as a temporary art installation near an upper Teesdale beauty spot to commemorate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

The seven-metre wool covered plywood arch, the work of internationally renowned artist Steve Messam, was commissioned by Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services to “celebrate the area, farming and the jubilee”.

The arch, which will straddle a footpath allowing visitors to walk beneath it, is to be unveiled on Friday, May 27.

Mr Messam said: “They [Utass] came to me and wanted to do something for the jubilee. There were lots of ideas that people wanted to do, but the arch won out.”

Mr Messam took inspiration for the unusual structure from an earlier jubilee to celebrate the current queen’s great, great grandmother, Victoria’s 60th year on the throne.

In 1897 thousands of temporary wooden jubilee arches were built across Great Britain for the occasion.

He added: “Almost every village and town built a jubilee arch. They were amazing structures and they were just temporary things made out of wood and scaffold and were clad in fabric and things.

“I found photographs of a good 30 of them. High Whickham was known for furniture manufacture and they made their town of chairs that was a good 40 feet tall.

“Chichester had four arches. Each part of the town was in competition with each other.” Mr Messam’s plywood arch, which will measure five and a half metres in width, will be covered in about 400 fleeces from Mule sheep, sourced from one flock from a farm in the dale.

Mr Messam said: “I have done buildings wrapped in wool before, but not for about ten years and it was something nice to talk about.

“The arch is not only about the jubilee but it is a celebration of the area, the farming and the landscape.

“It’s the ideal time as the wildflowers will be out and the landscape will be looking fantastic.”

By using the fleece of Mule sheep for the artwork, he says it will draw attention to how sheep farming has changed over the years.

He added: “It is nice to be able to talk about sheep farming. The fleece from Mule sheep is coarse and was used for making carpets, but there is no demand now as they have plastic carpets now.”

“It is a celebration arch, designed and built by local people.

“It is as much of a community project as I have ever done. Everyone has been part of it and happy to be involved. It is historic thing and hopefully in a 100 years people will talk about it.”

The arch will be sited close to Bowlees Visitor Centre, in upper Teesdale, and will be unveiled on Friday, May 27.

It will remain in place until Monday, June 13, for visitors to enjoy.

Utass will be operating a shuttle bus service between Middleton, Bowlees and High Force.