Renowned Boro-born artist Mackenzie Thorpe unveiled a poignant new bronze sculpture, Waiting For Me Dad, at the iconic Transporter Bridge this week.
Like many men from the town Mackenzie once worked in the industry and shipyards of the area making the sculpture an appropriate and poignant way to mark his 30th anniversary as an artist.
The Transporter Bridge features prominently in many of Mackenzie’s pictures and the sculpture was inspired by his painting of the same name.
The sculpture sees two children standing on the Middlesbrough side of the river waiting for the gondola to return, bringing the droves of men who used the bridge daily home to their families after a hard day working in the industry of the area.
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For Mackenzie the sculpture is intended to ensure that the daily contribution to Middlesbrough’s success by normal, everyday people is celebrated, acknowledged and not forgotten.
It was launched with a moving and inspirational event involving members of the community and the Infant Hercules choir singing local Middlesbrough-inspired songs including An Ordinary Man in tribute to the men who used the bridge for work.
“For me the Transporter symbolises Middlesbrough; Its, strength, its people and its industry and I am so proud of it,” said Mackenzie.
“Everyone from the town has their own story about the bridge and I am no different.
“I love, for instance, hearing about stories such as when men would climb over the bridge with the bicycles, to save the penny crossing fee and wherever my work is exhibited there is normally a transporter bridge featuring somewhere, it’s amazing how many people around the world recognise it.
“The sculpture is my way of honouring the men who worked in the industry of the area, and used the bridge daily, to get to work and their families who waited for their return, they all helped make Middlesbrough great.
“In my own way I wanted to acknowledge that time, when it was normal for droves of men crossing the river daily to work long hard shifts and families waited for their return, the men did it to put food on the table, and the sculpture depicts the children waiting for their return.
“It was so moving to see all the people today gathered on the Transporter to represent those men, crossing the river to greet the sculpture for the first time.”
Middlesbrough mayor Dave Budd said: “Mackenzie is an internationally renowned artist, but he was born and bred in Middlesbrough, and his work reflects the love and pride he has in this place.
“We have a number of his works here including Erimus in Centre Square, and this new statue will be a fantastic addition to our collection of public art.”
After the sculpture was revealed Mackenzie donated the original painting of Waiting For Me Dad to the town.
One of the biggest selling British contemporary artists, Mackenzie has loaned the sculpture for up to two years.
The events in Middlesbrough are part of a year-long celebration of Mackenzie’s 30th year as an artist in which he has been named official artist for the Tour de Yorkshire 2019 and will tour galleries throughout the UK, America and Japan.