Putting 22 cast iron markers in the frame
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A PROJECT which saw 22 cast iron boundary markers installed across Teesdale has been recorded as part of an Art UK scheme.
The markers, designed by artist Richard Wentworth, were put in placed to mark the parish boundaries crossing the Teesdale Way in 1996.
The project was the brainchild of the former arts officer for Teesdale District Council, Rosie Cross, and received funding from the Arts Council.
After reading an article in the Mercury about photographer Elaine Vizor’s project to catalogue and photograph public works of art, Ms Cross suggested the boundary markers as a potential subject.
Ms Vizor, from Spring Gardens, said: “The markers were on my radar but with Covid, I couldn’t get out and about. When Rosie got in touch it reinvigorated me to get out and photograph them. Her enthusiasm for the project after 25 years is infectious.
“By re-photographing them it is bringing them back into focus for another generation which maybe doesn’t know their significance.
The boundary markers, which are set in pairs, each have their parish name cast into the iron and after two and a half decades have weathered down well.
The 11 pairs are situated on the parish boundaries at Middleton-in-Teesdale and Eggleston, Romaldkirk and Hunderthwaite, Hunderthwaite and Cotherstone, Cotherstone and Lartington, Barnard Castle and Marwood, Lartington and Startforth, Startforth and Egglestone Abbey, Egglestone Abbey and Rokeby, Rokeby and Wycliffe with Thorpe, Westwick and Whorlton and Winston and Gainford.
Ms Visor added: “I’ve photographed them all now and I’ve met lots of different people while I was busy photographing them. Some knew what they were and others didn’t but are now going to keep an eye out for them.
“I’ve had to pull a fair few weeds out and the one at Startforth was completely consumed in ivy so I got in touch with the parish council and asked if they could help.
“They were really positive and a day after discussing it, their handyman had been and cut all the ivy back so I could photograph the marker.”
Ms Cross said: “It was the first Lottery funded public art project in Teesdale and the boundary markers were part of a wider scheme which involved the whole community.”
The wider project which explored history, culture and traditions of boundary marking saw WI groups making patchwork banners and school children creating models of iconic dale features including the long-gone viaduct over the River Tees.
She added: “The artist was fascinated with cutting things in two and loved the idea that you could think of them as two pieces of the same work.
“There was a lot of scepticism at the time that the markers wouldn’t last but they are still in great condition and all of them are set in such lovely places.”
It may be a few months before the boundary marker photographs appear on Arts UK website due to a backlog, Ms Vizor said. However, each one will have details of the location and a suggested walking trail to visit them.