COUNTY HALL: Art worth preserving

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I recently wrote about County Hall being a building of merit, (Morpeth Herald, January 19).

I should also like to highlight that as part of the fabric of the building there is some impressive artwork. These are rubbed brick reliefs, situated in the wide corridor beyond the locked glass doors beside the reception area.

They are likely to be destroyed if the County Hall building is demolished.

These reliefs depict scenes and characters from Northumberland’s religious and industrial history. They form an integral part of two brick walls.

At one time they were freely accessible to members of the public visiting County Hall, but they have more recently become locked away and are now part of a thoroughfare between the foyer and council offices.

This artwork is described as “impressive rubbed brick reliefs” in the Northumberland edition of Pevsner’s The Buildings of Britain.

They are impressive too – beautifully and subtly executed, although poorly displayed, with harsh spotlights shining down upon them.

Their value as part of Northumberland’s heritage is evident.

The originality of the artwork is not just in the subject matter, but also in the art form – rubbed brick – which is so much more subtle and expressive than carved brick.

These reliefs are worthy of preservation and conservation. They would need to be removed intact should demolition of County Hall become inevitable. They should be re-sited somewhere where the general public can see them.

Although this may be a costly exercise, given their heritage value for the county this should not be an obstacle to preserving them.

This artwork should be on display for all to see, but by requesting access to the corridor beyond County Hall’s reception, it is possible to view them.

Susan Starkie

Address supplied