Art and poetry joins the birds and wildlife at RSPB Saltholme

Twelve white obelisks have appeared amid the reedbeds and wet grasslands of RSPB Saltholme.

Monday, 27th May 2019, 10:43 am
Artist and poet Thomas Pearson with one of the 12 white obelisks at RSPB Saltholme.

They are part of artist and poet Thomas Pearson’s explorations of the environment, history and industrial heritage of Teesside.

The striking sculptural monuments are designed to echo the brine derricks that used to characterise this remarkable landscape.

The Billingham-born artist has also written a series of atmospheric poems that respond to the site and its ‘submerged histories’ – from migrating birds to the ICI chemical works where his grandfather and great grandfather worked ‘with men in moleskin suits and masks’.

A booklet of seven poems has been produced so visitors can read his words while exploring the nature reserve, which is also available online at

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Visitors can also join a ‘poetry tour’ led by the artist on selected days.

Thomas said: “I am delighted to present Brine Field in the unique landscape of RSPB Saltholme, so close to my home town of Billingham.

“It has been fascinating to use words and sculpture to explore the site’s connections to iron, salt, ships, chemicals – and now birds.

“I’ve also really enjoyed weaving in some threads from my own family history, including tales from Cassel Works, Haverton Hill and Seal Sands.”

Brine Field has been commissioned as part of Edgelandia – a national arts project to explore hidden stories and forgotten landscapes – and is part of a programme of celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of RSPB Saltholme.

Poetry tours are Wednesday, May 29, Saturday, June 1 and Wednesday, June 5. Contact 01642 546625.