he emerges into the light
stumbling on alien limbs
his unseen labours now behind him
a burden to be carried
through the pressing crowds
who thank him for his service,
this misplaced object.
What cast will mark this place?
What happens when the role you have played all your life – you, and your father and grandfather before you – is taken away? What happens when that role does not lie in wait for your son, when your children must set out on an unmarked road?
Those are questions facing Zechariah.
What happens when it is not only you and your son, but all of your neighbours and their sons and daughters too?
That is a question posed by the Angel of the North – which perhaps also stands as a signpost on that not-clearly-marked but not-wholly-unmarked road?
There are some fantastic pieces of art installed on the subterranean platforms of Sunderland train station which also connect to these ideas:
a wall, a walkway made of lights along which the figures of travellers pass back and forth, never emerging from the light-tunnel in the dark but carrying potential onward journeys;
and a series of almost fifty poster-sized photos of objects left unintentionally on trains – toys, jewellery, rosary, wallet, notepad, a camera, umbrella, cushion – misplaced items, taking on a beauty of their own when seen from a fresh perspective.