Gan Canny
Art Sunderland Tyne And Wear

Gan Canny

Art In Sunderland, Tyne And Wear

A life size reminder of The Vaux Brewery wagons and Dray horses by Ray Lonsdale.

Taking a stroll around Keel Square in Sunderland you will no doubt see Gan Canny which is an impressive installation outside the former Magistrates Court which has recently been regenerated and finishing touches are still going on (March 2024).

It's another sculpture by Ray Lonsdale and when we asked him about its title he explained Gan Canny (a colloquial Geordie expression) in this context means "Go steady". The drayman did not want his horses getting frisky on the sugar that was being fed by the drayhand lad and tank off with the wagon. Read the poem and you will find Samson and Maxim were not the horses' names, they were a couple of the beers sold. It could be this, and the happy memories that turn this into an emotive art piece for all to enjoy. It certainly is "Craft with meaning".

This is life-size in Corten Steel and is the largest work undertaken to date (March 2024). Ray explained it took 16 months and the work was inspected monthly with Ray also being paid monthly. This kept both sides honest as it was during the Covid-19 pandemic and was fortuitous timing as there were fewer distractions and visitors.

Corten is a mild steel with nickel and copper content. Known as weathering steel as it oxidises to form that characteristic rusty look.

The Vaux Brewery was a major part of Sunderland as you could smell the hops across town and see hold-ups due to the drays which were regular occurrences but tolerated by most as it was quite a spectacle to see.

A dray is a low carriage with 4 wheels pulled by horses. There were several used by Vaux and were not strictly necessary as vans could do this work. Which would you rather see?

Eddie Mahoney who had been a Drayman at Vaux was the model for the sculpture. Ray had already started working on it and had used a wagon at Beamish as a model. When Eddie saw it, he said it was too wide, so the axils were cut and it was made smaller. You can see the joins underneath.

Anatomically the dray horses have been captured with their upright shoulders, powerful hindquarters and broad back. The measurements were taken from one at Beamish. This photo hangs on the wall at the workshop.

There is horse muck in the bucket and a spade. The lad would have scooped it up, and as they say. "Good for the roses".

There is a lot of detail and Ray said he could have gone on forever putting more touches to it;

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54.907517, -1.387584

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54.908703, 54.908703

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Parking available in the area. We used St Marys multistory.

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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Gan Canny was listed in Art // Tyne And Wear // Sunderland