When Ray Lonsdale's Gan Canny tribute to Sunderland's Vaux Breweries is likely to appear

Renowned sculptor Ray Lonsdale’s tribute to Sunderland’s fabled Vaux Breweries is to be installed after plans were unanimously backed by councillors. v.1

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 3:52 pm

Sunderland’s iconic dray horses - walked the city’s streets until the original business’s closure in 1999 - will reappear as part of a new corten steel statue by Mr Lonsdale.

The piece, entitled Gan Canny, is one of three designed by the creator of Seaham’s famous Tommy.

It is to be installed on the corner of Keel Square and is expected to be in position by early December.

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Artist Ray Lonsdale with his metal sculpture Gan Canny.

The two further pieces are yet to be revealed but expected to be installed separately at different sites across the Riverside Sunderland development.

The life-sized Gan Canny statue – which captures two men with the dray horses with a cart full of Vaux beer – includes details like wheel spokes and a realistic recreation of a bucket carrying sculpted horse mess hanging on the side of the cart.

Councillors on Sunderland City Council’s planning and highways (east) committee unanimously approved the proposals on Monday evening, praising the sculpture as a “very good fit” for the location.

Labour’s Cllr Karen Noble said: “I think it’s an absolutely stunning piece of artwork, it’s a credit to Sunderland, and I think it captures the nostalgia and history of the Vaux site.”

Artist Ray Lonsdale.

Conservative Cllr Michael Dixon added: “It’s just lovely, sometimes we can look back a little bit too often, but this one’s great.

“It reminds me of Vaux beer, going into the Brewery Tap, seeing something which is brilliant, which is part of Sunderland sadly gone.”

A report from council officers, recommending the plans for approval, outlined how the artwork recognises Sunderland’s brewing history with Vaux “operating within the city for 162 years prior to its closure in 1999”.

Mr Lonsdale, whose family are from Sunderland, still has a strong connection to the city, and said it has been a privilege to create the artwork.

He added: “I am just so flattered though to have been given the chance to create something that celebrates the past in a city that is focused now on the future.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, added the response to the piece has been “absolutely incredible.”

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