Swans in Flight
Art Newcastle City Centre Tyne And Wear

Swans in Flight

Art In Newcastle City Centre, Tyne And Wear

Five bronze life-size swans in various stages of flight that look naturally interwoven with each other.

The Swans In Flight sculpture is at Newcastle's Civic Centre located inside the quadrangle of which there is a public alleyway built through the Civic Centre to give you access.

After enjoying these swans' serenity against the building's Brutalist look, you may wonder why swans? From what I can find out it was already decided that King Olav V of Norway was going to open the Civic Centre in 1968 and Bergen is twinned with Newcastle. They give a Christmas tree to Newcastle most years, so for the King's visit, swans could have been chosen for a reciprocal gift as they feature a lot in Nordic countries.

For me, when thinking of Newcastle's links to Scandinavian countries, I think of the Danes and Vikings, oh and DFDS (other ferry operators are not available) sailings to Nordic countries from the Port of Tyne.

The sculptor David Wynn (1926 to 2014) used the Scandinavian poem 'The Swans From the North' By Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pederson's as his inspiration.

Here is the opening verse.

Twas five wild swans in silver plumage dressed,

That toward the coastline of the north were streaming,

A streak of dawn light colored every breast

Ere yet the red flush of the dawn was gleaming...

Five Swans are a reference to the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden and feature in Norse folklore. Who remembers The Ugly Duckling by Danny Kaye based on the Danish Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale? The Whooper swan is the National bird of Finland and the Mute Swan is the national bird of Denmark. Five swans have been featured on Nordic postage stamps.

David Wynn studied Zoology at Cambridge and did not study sculpture academically. He did 'study' with sculptor Georg Ehrlich of which his goal was to marry Ehrlich's model Gillian and he did. Wynn also had historian George Macaulay Trevelyan of Garibaldi and Wallington Hall fame in his corner. I guess they met at Cambridge where they both attended. George was instrumental in persuading Mr Wynn senior to spend a fortune on a studio for David. He was known to take time to study his animals when commissioned for sculptures.

This is a bronze sculpture and each swan is subtly attached to another. They look life-size. Some say this sculpture also portrays the various stages of a swan taking off. According to the Wildlife Trust in the UK we have three types of swan; The Mute Swan is the noisy flyer, The Berwick Swan is the fastest flapper and The Whooper Swan is the largest with a long neck, so I suggest these are Whoopers.

Whilst you are here you should marvel at David Wynn's other work River God Tyne near the entrance to the Civic Centre. If you need some sustenance there is a pub nearby called the Five Swans in reference to this sculpture.

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How To Find Swans in Flight

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54.978695, -1.611072

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54.979531, 54.979531

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Lots of parking within Newcastle City Centre, with the nearest being the Civic Centre car park.

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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Swans in Flight was listed in Art // Tyne And Wear // Newcastle City Centre