A NEW piece of public art has been installed at garden attraction.

The metal sculpture, which has been named the Fungate as it depicts a series of giant fungi, provides an attractive gateway to the native woodland area at Durham University's Botanic Garden.

The artwork replaces a wooden archway which became rotten and had be removed and was funded by The Friends of Durham University Botanic Garden.

It was created by Graeme Hopper, an artist, designer and sculptor based near Crook, who previously made the Garden’s popular Millennium Bug sculpture.

The artwork was officially unveiled on Thursday night by Sir Thomas Allen, the world-renowned opera star, who is the University’s Chancellor and Patron of the Friends.

Head gardener Mike Hughes said: “We’re very pleased with the new giant fungi sculpture. It creates a welcoming and pleasant gateway to the native woodland area of the Garden and has already proved very popular.

“As well as being visually appealing, it also has educational benefits. Fungi are an important part of woodland eco-systems and the sculpture is useful in helping us explain this to visitors, particularly school groups.

“We’re very grateful to The Friends for their terrific support and Graeme Hopper for producing such an attractive piece.”

Lynne McAdam, chairman of The Friends of Durham University Botanic Garden, said: “The Garden is a beautiful, tranquil haven from the hustle and bustle of the City where there is room to think, breathe and relax.

"It should be visited as often as possible.”

The ten hectare Botanic Garden is on the southern outskirts of Durham City and open to the public, for details durham.ac.uk/botanic.garden