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August 10, 2007

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Gateshead Council

New artwork commemorates North East fiddler James Hill

Sculptor Peter Coates, photo by Tony Bartholomew

A famous North East musician, one of the most talented fiddlers of his generation, is to be commemorated with a new artwork.

James Hill, a 19th century musician who spent most of his life living on Gateshead's Bottle Bank (where the Hilton hotel now stands) produced some of the most popular fiddle tunes of the time, including 'Hawk' and 'High Level Hornpipes', about the high level bridge.

Scotsman Hill was an exponent of the 'hornpipe' style, pioneered in the region, and his work was recognised internationally and remains popular today - he was even referred to as the 'Paganini of hornpipe players'.

The sculpture was commissioned by Gateshead Council - famed for it's world-class public art, including The Angel of the North - working with Rod Matthews, a local man who represents the Friends of James Hill Memorial, and also supported by The Sage Gateshead.

The project has led to sculptor Peter Coates designing the artwork in bronze and stone, which will be situated on Bottle Bank - Hill's former home - opposite the Hilton hotel. It will feature a fiddle 'leaning' against the wall, an inscription and a carved seat.

An exciting education programme has been developed and has two strands to cover music and the visual arts. The music programme includes creating and learning fiddle tunes, teaching sessions for violin teachers and clog dancing, whilst the visual arts programme features stone carving and expressive drawing and painting sessions. A group of students from Gateshead College were taken to visit the artists' studio to see the work in progress and to take part in a letter carving workshop earlier this year. Storytelling sessions will also take place taking the children back in time to find out what it was like to live in Gateshead in the 19th Century.

For further information on this commission please contact Anna Pepperall on (0191) 433 2986 or email [email protected]


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