I always like to encourage the positive representation of sardines in public life, so I was delighted to find them honoured, albeit canned, on The Blacksmith's Needle, a contemporary sculpture opposite the Baltic on Newcastle's Quayside. The Blacksmith's Needle is a large cone of forged steel, with a maritime bell hanging within (the bell was rung - probably for the last time - when the work was inaugurated in 1997 by the percussionist Evelyn Glennie).
The Needle is divided into six sections, intended to represent the six senses, each designed by a different blacksmith from the British Artist Blacksmiths' Association. Sardines, it goes without saying, satisfy all five human senses. But when Stephen Lunn, from The Forge at Red Row in Northumberland, pulled the short straw for the elusive sixth sense, he admitted, “It was hard work to represent the sixth sense in ironwork.” He finally decided on “beach stones and pebbles, because just as they are worn down by the sea, I wear down metal into the shape I want it to be.”
"Mermaids on toast?"