So much in Durham City can be enjoyed as art including buildings, sculpture, paintings, literature, music and crafts old and new. And so much in Durham has inspired works of art, old and new. That sudden unexpected view; a shaft of light striking medieval architecture; a reflection in the River Wear; links to people and their places. All these have been used in some way by artists down the centuries who were trying to capture Durham’s mood of the moment, the essence of a story, the character of the place. So explore beyond the obvious to find some of Durham’s more hidden art gems. Find the quirky alongside the instantly recognisable and the modern beside the ancient.
The Durham City Map (download from www.thisisdurham.com) marks the old racecourse on the south bank of the River Wear (Map Ref E1). This stretch of Durham’s riverbanks was originally named the Smiddyhaughs and was where the gentry of 18th and 19th century Durham would come to enjoy horse racing. On this level area of ground the Durham Cow sculpture is an unexpected sight to find along a scenic riverside footpath. Designed by Professor Andrew Burton of Newcastle University using bronze, ceramic and stone, this is a multi-functional cow. In appearance, it is similar to the sacred animal at the centre of Hindu religion. In Durham’s history, however, it recalls the much loved legend of 995AD when the Community of St Cuthbert, carrying the body of their revered Saint, were guided to the peninsula by a milkmaid seeking out her dun cow for milking. In this way, St Cuthbert’s body reached its final, secure resting place and the Dun Holme of those ancient times began its long history of development into the Durham City of today.
The City map can be used to find other hidden art gems including the statue “Cuthbert of the Farne” in the garden adjacent to the Durham Heritage Centre and Museum (Artist: Dr Fenwick Lawson. Map Ref F4) and on the riverbanks close to Prebends’ Bridge (Map Ref H6) there are two works of art in stone which stand on opposite sides of the riverbanks: “Kathedra” (Artist: Colin Wilbourn. Map Ref G5 on east side of riverbank) and “Revealed” (Artist: Richard Cole. Map Ref G6 on west side of riverbank)
Durham City – various sites Durham City – www.thisisdurham.com