Sunderland Transformed


Selected by Neil Sinclair

When I was Senior Curator of Sunderland Museums one of the collections that interested me most was that containing topographical works which show the local area over the past two centuries.  Many of these paintings capture the essence of a busy industrial town centred around the River Wear, such as those by T.M. Hemy showing the crowded smoky riverside in the late 19th century and L.S. Lowry’s works inspired by the Lambton Staiths in the mid 20th century.

Robert Soden’s paintings of Sunderland in the 1990s and early 2000s continue the same tradition and record Sunderland in transition.  They show the final remnants of the shipbuilding industry, the last days of coal mining and coal trains and the demolition of the Vaux site.  Even the 1960s flats, which fascinate Robert, changed their outline as they were modernised.

As well as the end of old industries, Robert Soden has painted new developments in Sunderland, such as the Stadium of Light, the University Campus at St Peter’s and the Museum and Winter Gardens.

In the mid 19th century Sunderland was fortunate to have artists such as Stuart Henry Bell, who produced the memorable painting of the moving of the Old North Pier Lighthouse, and Mark Thompson, whose works included the Opening of the South Dock.  We are fortunate that Robert Soden is producing paintings today which will have equal significance in the future.

Neil Sinclair

back to Gallery
















© the artist and the authors