Newcastle United Art Forum – The Shearer Statue

Alan Shearer statue

Looks like something out of a cereal packet

It isn’t very often that I venture off the highway of football to enter the arena of art criticism here on NUFC Blog, but this is one of those occaisions and I am actually more qualified. Having been a figurative artist, a designer and also an art dealer in a very modest sense, I hope I can give a reasonably informed opinion without getting too carried away.

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As you might have guessed from the photo accompanying thus piece, my current musing has been inspired by the recent unveiling of the Alan Shearer sculpture. Named ‘Local Hero,’ it is the second by local self-taught sculptor, Tom Maley for Newcastle United. It follows Maley’s Bobby Robson tribute of 2012, though it was actually commissioned by former NUFC Chairman, Freddie Shepherd before that in 2007 at an alleged cost of around £250,000. There is almost certainly some kind of club politics behind the nine year delay in its unveiling but that is not what this story is about.

What it is about is that despite the huge cost, both this and the previous statue of Sir Bobby Robson have been of fairly low artistic merit. You can see this when you look at them in comparison to the earlier sculpture of another Newcastle United legend, Jackie Milburn from 1991. Sculpted by Susannah Robinson, it was commissioned at a cost of only £35,000 and paid for by readers of local newspaper, The Evening Chronicle three years after Milburn’s death. Even if it was done 8 years before the Shearer sculpture, that is a huge difference, especially when the latter ones are of a lower merit.

Jackie Milburn statue

Jackie Milburn by Susannah Robinson.

Looking at Robinson’s Milburn piece, there’s a correct weight and balance in the body, there is life bursting out of it, a tension between motion and stillness which is missing from the others. One can see that it has been done from a live model, which really does make all the difference. It has real integrity, like Milburn himself. In comparison, Sir Bobby and Alan look more like huge versions of the kind of models you might have seen given away in a cereal packet when England were in the World Cup.

Though Mike Ashley and Freddie Shepherd are hardly renowned as art connoisseurs, ultimately it is the man or woman who pays the piper that calls the tune. My thoughts as I was writing the last sentence turned to Mohammed al Fayed’s statue of Michael Jackson at Fulham, so I suppose that things could be worse! If Mike Ashley has finally realised that he is no football expert and has left it to someone who is at last, I will also hope he realises that both he and Shepherd haven’t been art experts either, and that he brings one in to chose the sculptor who makes the next Newcastle United legend, whoever might be the subject. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

Jerry Springer style, I will offer one final thought on how Newcastle United represents its history. It’s great that one of the finest players in the club’s history has just been honoured, and that Sir Bobby was too. However, NUFC is a club which has over 120 years of history, and won all of its major trophies in other times. For what it’s worth, I think it is time to look beyond the 1990s and 2000s when the club honours its own in future. Milburn represented the 1950s and that was a start, but our most glorious period was undoubtedly way back in the 1900s with Colin Veitch, and the last time we won the League was in 1927 with Hughie Gallacher’s goals, yet the heroes of these older times are barely acknowledged today.

avatar NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1052 articles on this blog.

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7 Responses to “Newcastle United Art Forum – The Shearer Statue”

  1. 1
    avatar Nutmag says:

    Yes Worky what are you two doing down there when there’s lots of room up here.
    I have to agree with you both Bobby’s and Shearers statues leave me cold the one of Jackie Milburn as you say is in a different “league”. I must say I’m not a fan of this type of sculpture.
    Having lived in Folkestone in the sixties and seventies where there is a statue of William Harvey. I found a great deal of Folkestone residents could not tell you who William Harvey was.
    As for the football I think its to early to judge. Because it’s all about the time it takes Rafa to bring this squad together as its virtually a brand new collection of players. It is not about finding the best eleven but getting the whole squad to gel together to be inter changeable able to change game plans etc..
    I think we will see a gradual improvement.
    Onward and upward!

  2. 2
    avatar chuck says:

    You certainly got that right, talking bout the merit and cost of he two most recent sculptures, any high school kid with visions of becoming a sculpture couldda probably done a better job, simply for the cost of materials, they are that bad.

    Big game coming up against Villa, would be nice to see it, will check on Saturday to see if anyone is streaming it.

    Afraid my tv cable provider is about to be taken over and I cant get much in the way of future scheduling of games, ah well!

    I was disappointed to see so many of our best talent sold during the summer, but not surprised, guess Rafa had to unload those who could provide the recruitment money to replace what had become over time a shop window for continental players to advertise their wares and move on, hopefully to a bigger and wealthier club.

    The club had I am sure a crap reputation, certainly as far as management was concerned, in which case NUFC had set their standards and they were poor indeed, Ashley believing he could run the club on the cheap yet buy his way out of the relegation struggle.

    I’m not sure how many of the present squad could survive in the PL if promoted and money will have to be spent either way, the difference being there’s a hell of a lot more available as a member of the PL, and the natives will be restless and not so inclined to show up in such numbers, with a second season in the second tier.

    Then there’s the continuing saga of Ashley and SD, which will require a lot more of his time, hopefully at the same time financing Rafa.

    I’m wondering if in fact Ashley still sees NUFC as the adjunct to SD that he originally envisioned or now entertains the possibility of selling now that English football clubs have become so attractive to oversees buyers, with a few extra bob to spend, after all every billionaire appears to either own a pro sports franchise or be on the board/part owner.

    The projected century we are now living in, has been projected as the Asian or Eastern century and it’s only a matter of time before there will be bids made for NUFC and Ashley possibly has enough on his plate with SD, that it may only be a matter of time before the Ashley Saga comes to an end.

    Oh yeah! I forgot didn’t he promise to earn some silverware before he left, I for one am still awaiting that, but not with a lotta belief.

  3. 3
    avatar workyticket says:

    Nutmag, I saw a programme about Harvey on the telly once, and I was reminded of it more recently because I’m being treated at his old hospital, Barts, which is just across from St Paul’s Cathedral.

    One name I missed out of the story because I was thinking about players was “The Guv’nor,” Frank Watt. I would say he was far more important to the history of Newcastle United than Alan Shearer, Bobby Robson and Jackie Milburn put together, but where’s his statue?

    “Then there’s the continuing saga of Ashley and SD, which will require a lot more of his time, hopefully at the same time financing Rafa.”

    Chuck, even though Ashley has taken over as MD of Sports Direct now, he has always been the dictator there and that has always been his primary focus. He’s Mike Ashley, he spends his time where the money is. He’s tried to make it look like he’s a naive little boy who was didn’t know what was going on, but that was just BS fed to him by Keith Bishop, a fairy story to get him out of the shite with the MPs who were grilling him in the Houses of Parliament about being a dodgy boss.

  4. 4
    avatar chuck says:

    Well NUFC are back playing as usual. had they won to-day they would have gone top of the league, but blew it by conceding a goal in the 88th. minute, though Villa were pressing hard and were the better side in the second half.

    Though they did get a point outta the game.

    So much for premier league dreams !

  5. 5
    avatar workyticket says:

    I didn’t mind the goal, Chuck. We had enough chances to score a second at least, but the finishing wasn’t very good at all. Even our goal was scored by one of their players.

  6. 6
    avatar Nutmag says:

    The ghost of last seasons team keeps reappearing, even with so many new players we just can’t shake it off.
    Hope Barts are fixing you up Worky.

  7. 7
    avatar workyticket says:

    Nutmag says:
    September 24, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    “Hope Barts are fixing you up Worky.”

    Thanks Nutmag. They tried to do the same thing to my mother quite a few years ago in Teeside hospital and she died so I hope Bart’s make a better job of me this time. If I’m still here on wednesday, it means they haven’t killed me!

    With us dropping the two points, Hughton has now overtaken us to go third with his fourth victory in a row at Brighton.

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