Each morning I walk down to the coast and along Browns Bay. It's a small bay, when compared to it's neighbours Whitley and Cullercoats, but it's usually always quiet. There is no sand, but lots and lots of shale and pebbles, and when the waves get quite choppy the seagulls descend to one corner of the bay and surf the incoming waves. In the winter, If it's really rough, we can often wake up to a beached seal on the shore, who after sleeping off his stormy night, manages to heave itself back to the safety of the water. And, in the summer, we are fortunate to see dolphins swim across the bay on their way to the Tyne Piers to hunt for salmon.
This humble bay is the backdrop to the iconic 1930's Whitley Bay poster.
My photography project for May 2022 has been to recreate this iconic poster giving it a Platinum Jubilee Celebration twist in honour of HRM Queen Elizabeth. The original artwork was by John Littlejohns [1874-1955], a painter, illustrator, writer and teacher from Devon who was commissioned by London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) to create a range of posters.
Table Rocks is within the town of Whitley Bay immediately north of Brown's Bay, near Cullercoats. It became a popular tourist attraction at the turn of the 19th/20th century. The rocks had a natural tidal pool which was extended to 70 feet by blasting in c.1909 to make an outdoor swimming pool. Unfortunately the pool is no longer officially being used, so the current pool cannot be scoured to remove the debris built up over years of disuse. To me that is such a shame, however it is incredible to see. After scouring the internet I have found a few photos that I've found through looking online, especially via http://www.rockclifferemembers.co.uk/table-rocks/
To create our homage to a by-gone era, I asked my friend and artist Suzi Firenzi to help me create a set of crown jewels. We collected the basic polystyrene shapes from Yorkshire Trading Company, along with sequins and pearls. They were topped with ping pong balls and cardboard cut out crosses. Then sprayed and embellished using costume jewellery. The crown too started off as a very simple £3.99 crown from eBay, but Suzi had no problem embellishing it to look absolutely wonderful!
The clothing was bought from Amazon; a strappy red vest and some royal blue sports tops and shorts. The vest and shorts edges were then trimmed with white bias so we could look like the lady in the original painting. I had sourced two red golf umbrellas and a Union Jack scarf. Although some text has said that the poster is a picture of "Belles" I can see quite clearly that there are men enjoying in the frolicking. My friends April & Allan stepped up to be our models for the day, along with Suzi. And with all that, I think we were good to go.
We do have to remember that the original painting was not quite exactly correct when it came to proportions, however, we did our best to recreate the picture. There were seven images in total used and blended together and edited using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Absolutely delighted with the end results and is the best way for me to celebrate 70 years of HRM Queen Elizabeth being our Queen, that's over 25,550 days working full time! A remarkable monarch and a remarkable lady.
I hope you like our 2022 poster and little behind the scenes video, and have a wonderful Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend.
Let the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations Commence!