Public Art: Sea Swallow Sculpture

Public Art: Sea Swallow Sculpture

The Sea Swallow sculpture stands tall, white and graceful on the skyline over Cleveleys seafront, it’s visible as a marker from far around.

You’ll find it at the seaward side of the promenade at the end of Victoria Road West. You can see it inland at the tramway and even further along Victoria Road West, and all the way along the coastline.

What is the Sea Swallow Sculpture?

The Sea Swallow sculpture is a 30′ tall piece of public art, it’s the key piece from the children’s story book of the same name. It joins other pieces of public art in the Mythic Coast Trail along the promenade and seafront at Cleveleys.

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The coated aluminium sculpture was designed by artist Stephen Broadbent. It was made and installed by Chris Brammall Limited from Cumbria.

Sea Swallow sculpture on Cleveleys promenade
Sea Swallow sculpture on Cleveleys promenade

Watch the Sea Swallows fly…

At the top of the graceful white sculpture, the Sea Swallows fly. They soar in all weathers, above our lovely seaside town.

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See the birds fly at the top of the Sea Swallow Sculpture on Cleveleys promenade
See the birds fly at the top of the Sea Swallow Sculpture on Cleveleys promenade

Tales of the Mythic Coastline spread beyond Cleveleys into Fleetwood. They’re woven into the new sea defences at nearby Rossall and beyond.

What is the Sea Swallow?

The Sea Swallow is a children’s story for the Wyre coastline. It’s a fantastic narrative with threads of local folklore, blending myth and legend into a magical tale. Tales of petrified forests are in there, with sunken villages and the Sea Swallows which fly over the coast.

Sea Swallow, Cleveleys storybook

Excerpts of text, images and poems from the book are woven into each of the pieces of the Mythic Coast trail. The opening paragraph of text from the book is carved into the silver grey granite plinth at the base of the Sea Swallow sculpture. The very last sentence is included too, which was the inspiration for the sculpture.

The birds are based on Hannah Megee’s illustrations in the book and the designs were hand carved in China. The stonemasons copied maquettes created by the artist, Stephen Broadbent. (A maquette is a small representation of a finished sculpture. Sort of a ‘proof’ in the shape of a mini-me).

Text from the book, carved into the base of the Sea Swallow sculpture
Text from the book, carved into the base of the Sea Swallow sculpture, read the poem below –

Down in Lune Deep
Far below the sea
Something sparkles
Like sunken treasure.

A strange boy is watching
But steals away in a flash
As the Sea-Ogre stirs
And our story begins…

Mythic Coast Public Art Trail

The story is brought to life through a public art trail which winds along the promenade at Cleveleys and beyond into Fleetwood.

First, where Cleveleys meets Blackpool, is the Shipwreck Memorial, next is the Sea Swallow sculpture, then the Ogres Paddle. Spot the Ogre himself sat on the beach when the tide is out, and finally you’ll see Mary’s Shell. It’s also on the beach but is so big that it’s exposed even at high tide.

Installation of the Sea Swallow Sculpture

This is the artist’s impression of the Sea Swallow sculpture, created long before the piece actually came to life. It’s a very accurate representation of the piece that was made and installed.

Artist's impression of the Sea Swallow sculpture at Cleveleys
Artist’s impression of the Sea Swallow sculpture at Cleveleys

The landmark Sea Swallow sculpture arrived on Cleveleys promenade on 19 June 2013.

Before that, in mid May, work started on the foundations for the base and plinth. On 19 June the sculpture itself was finally lifted into place.

Footings for installation of the Sea Swallow sculpture on Cleveleys promenade

In these photos you can see the stones being carved.

Plinth stones being carved for base of the Sea Swallow sculpture

Plinth stones being carved for base of the Sea Swallow sculpture

Plinth stones being carved for base of the Sea Swallow sculpture

Finn – a Merboy’s Tale

This poem was written by Susan Pugh from Cleveleys Writers. Susan was inspired to write it by “The Sea Swallow” book (2011) – the mythical tale for Cleveleys which also inspired the public art on the seafront.

Skin so watery, palest of green,
With a translucent nature I’d never seen.
Aquamarine scales flow down his spine
Until around his hips they twine,
Flowing down along his tail
Diamond tiles of blue-green derail
Into arching spines of an enormous fin
Which holds aquatic energy within

His hair is a mass of seaweed and shell
With so many colours that no one can tell
What colour it is, what colour it’s not,
It’s just like a rainbow caught up in a pot.
His eyes are like starlight seen through a haze,
Like watery emeralds, in a mystical gaze.
His fingers are webbed, his nails long and blue,
He’s a beautiful creature to behold it is true.

He lives in the sea, but he watches the shore.
Longing to know the humans some more,
He swims with the dolphins and fish of the deep,
Yet he yearns for the folk of the village to keep
Just a space in their hearts for the Merboy named Finn,
Who rescues lost Seamen and guides their boats in.
Alas he is mute to those on the land
All he can do is to gaze at the sand.

A young girl named Mary…

Then a young girl named Mary who cried to the sea
In her pain and her anger, Finn turned out to be
The one who could help her to fulfil her dreams
On that dark stormy night, a saviour it seems.
He gave her a kiss to breathe under the waves
So Mary could search out the Humpback ray slaves.
Then tricking the Ogre she picked up the shell
That was magical, precious and saved them from hell.

Now the village is safe. The sea’s in it’s place.
The Ogre and Rays were lost without trace.
Mary and Finn now live at the lake,
A seawater lagoon that the great flood did make.
Two good friends once joined through sadness and joy,
Are a young girl named Mary, and Finn the Merboy.
At sunset you see them sat by the shore
Laughing and smiling. Not alone any more.

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