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Performance Artist Sitting on a Pole at Tynemouth

“Well, basically, I’ll be planting a 17ft telegraph pole out at Tynemouth, 150 metres from the beach and sitting on it for 16 hours - an apology for not being a manly enough man.”

For some of us, giving and receiving an apology is more effective when doing it face to face or maybe even written down in a letter or email, but not for this young man. North East based performance artist, Stu Herring (@StuHerring), plans to conduct his apology on a completely new level, literally.

Stu isn’t just going to be sitting on a 17ft telegraph pole, watching the tide roll away and wastin’ time - there is a much more deep rooted meaning behind the act, and it all boils down to a creative, risk taking apology to his Dad, and a bit more.

“The premise of it was originated from researching rites of passage of spiritual acts in Eastern culture. The idea was to reapply it in an industrial context in the North East which is where I’m from. The reason why I’ve chosen the rites of passage, sort of a spiritual president for what I do, is because industrialisation has dried up in the North East, and the rites of passage in this culture would probably classify as getting a job and working in the shipyards.”

Going against the ‘norm’, the main running theme throughout his work is a physical journey of his understanding of existence and society. As a performance artist, this is one of many acts that Stu has creatively explored different ways to express himself. Previous acts include standing still for eight hours and submerging himself in a tin bath for two hours, with nothing but a tube to allow him oxygen to keep him alive. Carried out in Holland, he put himself in that environment to grasp a sense of isolation in a bathtub, exploring the difference in cultures and challenging the sensory deprivation.

Some people may have a hard time figuring out what the point is behind these performance acts. Personally, I think they’re great for this particular reason.

“I’m the first person from my family to go to university and get an art degree. As my dad was a metal worker, this act will be kind of like an apology for not being a manly enough man. I looked at various other tribal acts that were these rites of passage for young men to become a man, and this is my way of trying to find a rite of passage into becoming a man in the North East. This performance is essentially a humorous apology to my Dad for not being manly enough.”

As preparation is already well underway, I ask him the hard hitting question that ponders on my mind when comprehending what it would actually be like to be sat on a 17ft telegraph pole, 150 metres from the beach...

What if you need to wee?

“This question has cropped up quite a few times and in my health and safety report. Basically I will have a urinary collection device. It’s obviously not going to be the most comfortable thing in the world but it’s not really a performance designed for comfort.”

Waiting on the thumbs up from the Council to carry out his performance, Stu plans to go ahead with this performance in September at King Edward’s Bay in Tynemouth. In conjunction with his performance, Stu will be getting a lot of support from B&D Studios (@BnDstudios). Acting as the production force, B&D Studios is a creative hub based in Newcastle City centre on Pilgrim Street in the Commercial Union House. To find out more about Stu and his act, either keep a close eye on Epic or give him a tweet, he’d be delighted to hear from you.