Organism (Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Andrew McKeown, 2007)

All photos courtesy of the artist

Located next to Saltburn’s charming funicular (or cliff lift) station, Andrew McKeown’s Organism is a sculpture inspired by diatoms – microscopic organisms called that live in the oceans. Created in conjunction with Groundworks NE, McKeown’s work was installed in 2007.

Diatoms are a single-celled algae, inhabiting virtually all of the world’s aquatic environments (they’ve also appeared in a coastal sculpture before: Richard Farrington’s Circle). Considered the most important of all the plankton, they form the basis of almost all the food chains in the oceans.

The diatoms were made (as shown above) using sand moulds which were then welded to the frame.

McKeown used nature as inspiration – not just thematically, but structurally. Organism was created in the same way that colonies of chain-forming diatoms reproduce. Duplicate casts have been formed from the mother pattern and joined together in a chain to reflect the regenerative properties of the oceanic food chains. The sculpture makes the microscopic iconic and it highlights the key role algae has in the health of this planet.

2 thoughts on “Organism (Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Andrew McKeown, 2007)

  1. oldcourtblog March 13, 2023 / 6:34 pm

    Hi Dan

    Following your email of “Organism” I had a slight mental aberration as I was convinced I had a sculpture by Andrew McKeown, but when I found the piece I was looking for it was by Mathew Jarratt!

    However, I have uploaded the images anyway into a folder called “Untitled” (which is how I have to name for Art UK if they are unnamed). This piece is quite interesting as it started off as 6 separate panels, and when I photographed it in 2020 there were only 3 panels. Now, I am told, there is only one! I will make a point of checking which one it is when I am next in Darlington, and will let you know.

    The link to the Art UK pages is below. I took several detailed images so just shout if you are interested any. I have sent a shot of each panel, and a close up showing more detail of each as well, as well as a location.–location_address:darlington-uk–work_type:sculpture–location_latitude:5452361–location_longitude:-1559458–location_radius:3/page/1–location_address:darlington-uk–work_type:sculpture–location_latitude:5452361–location_longitude:-1559458–location_radius:3/page/1

    Having looked through my photos I have found 2 by Andrew McKeown. One is called Crystallisation, and is located in Albert Park and the other is one from the Tees Sculpture trail – Crossing Point, Hurworth. Now, I am a bit confused with the Sculpture Trail. Do you want photos of each individual piece on the Trail?

    Finally, just wondering, have you heard of the Knife Angel, and if so, are you interested? It is a peripatetic piece and was in Kirkleatham Museum, (Redcar, TS10 5NW) in August last year. Its a powerful piece. I shot it whilst it was there so am happy to send you 2 or 3 shots if you want them.

    Regards Helen

    Helen Crute (BA) Hons The Old Court House Newbus Grange Neasham Darlington DL2 1PE

    01325 722328



    • Daniel Cochran March 14, 2023 / 4:05 am

      Cheers Helen! We did feature the Knife Angel on the blog but I haven’t transferred it to the WordPress yet. Your photos would be a big help for that.

      I’ll get round to the sculpture trail soon once I’ve cleared my backlog!


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