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Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Monday, 26 October 2009
Victorian picture predicts future
Painting being restored
The painting of Tyneside has been carefully restored

A curious aerial watercolour of Tyneside that astounded Victorian audiences has been re-discovered.

The panorama of Tyneside is puzzling, as it appears to predict the future.

The artist, John Storey, painted architecture like St Mary's Cathedral church spire, even though it was another decade before it was built.

BBC Inside Out have been exploring how Hardy managed to get such an aerial view of the city, and how he "predicted" the future.

The painting was discovered in the vaults at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, and is undergoing an extensive clean.

James Caverhill, a picture conservator, cleaned the watercolour, strangely, by giving it a bath. Click on the video below to see how.

Chris Jackson from Inside Out followed the story.

James put the painting in a water bath to help clean it

He said: "Storey's panorama is an historian's dream, and a vital tool to illustrate Victorian Tyneside.

"The more you learn, the more you want to know."

Hot air

But what's Chris's theory as to how one man could elevate himself well above ground level, just behind The Sage Gateshead site, without a plane, bridge or crane?

"My idea is he took a balloon flight," said Chris.

"They were popular on Tyneside in the mid 19th Century.

"But, for Storey to sketch the mere outline of the horizon in a hurry would have been nigh impossible.

"Just a slight wind would be enough to shake him about. He must have had a photographic memory and a pinpoint sense of perspective to have created his masterpiece.

"Whichever way you look at it, it's quite a remarkable achievement."

The painting is on show at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle until September 2010.




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