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STUNT DOUBLE; Pair dress up as Newbiggin Couple and hit the town for anniversary.

Byline: By VINCE GLEDHILL

THEY'VE been staring out across the North Sea for a year so it was about time they enjoyed a pint and a bag of chips.

The figures that make up the statue Couple took a day off from guarding the coast off Newbiggin, Northumberland, for a trip into town - all with a little help from a couple of stand-ins, of course.

Artists Eva Hartley, 53, and Peter Seddon, 64, strolled through the seaside village dressed as the man and woman in the offshore artwork.

A chip shop, pub, and a walk along the seafront were enjoyed as part of the stunt to mark the statue's first anniversary.

On the way, they also had a chance to read a book about Couple, which is due to be launched on Sunday.

Eva and Peter are both big fans of the eye-catching creation of London-based artist Sean Henry.

"I think Couple has been a resounding success for Newbiggin.

It certainly adds something extra for tourists visiting the village," said Eva. "Over the past year I've spoken to visitors from the United States, Germany and Sweden who've really enjoyed what they've seen of Newbiggin.

"All of the activity really gives us something to shout about."

Eva and Peter are founder members of a local arts group, called KEAP Creative, and have set-up The Hidden Gallery, a small art space in the village where the group exhibits work that includes paintings and ceramics inspired by the Couple sculpture.

They both say that the installation has triggered an artistic renaissance in the village Eva added: "Creative things are really starting to happen.

"It has encouraged other creatively-minded people to come out and show the world just what they can do.

"It's a wonderful time to be a resident of Newbiggin."

Couple is the first permanent offshore sculpture and was created to stand over a 200 metre-long breakwater built as part of a pounds 10m coast protection and beach restoration project.

The five metre tall figures stand on a 7.5 metre tall steel pier, making the sculpture twice the height of a double-decker bus.

To mark its first anniversary, the organisation that commissioned the piece, Inspire Northumberland, has backed a book charting its creation and installation.

By writer and broadcaster Mark Lawson, the 33-page book also features a selection of pictures by professional and amateur photographers capturing the sculpture in all four seasons.

Wendy Scott, of Inspire Northumberland, said: "Sean Henry's Couple has set a benchmark for other figurative pieces of public art in North East England.

"It represents Northumberland's passion, drive and commitment to establishing the region as place of creative excellence for others to aspire towards."

Kathy Mills, 53, has the fourstar Captain's Lodge bed and breakfast business, which boasts a spectacular view of The Couple from its master bedroom.

She said: "I love them. They're fantastic. I think Couple adds a whole different dimension to the breakwater."

CAPTION(S):

CONVINCING LOOKALIKES: Eva Hartley and Peter Seddon recreate the sculpture on the beach at Newbiggin with the artwork at sea in the background. Passers-by William Young and children Evan, Elise and Thea take a good look; PICTURE: MIKE URWIN www.chroniclelive.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01341491; HAVING FUN: The event marked the first anniversary of Couple's installation; TUCKING IN: Eva and Peter enjoy some chips
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 15, 2008
Words:555
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