AN EYE-catching flower has been drawing admiring glances from residents and motorists passing through a Teesdale village.

But although the 7ft-high bloom may have been buffeted in the recent wind and rain, it is in no danger of wilting, as it has been fashioned in metal by blacksmiths at Brian Russell's forge at Little Newsham, near Barnard Castle.

Mr Russell, who has been in the trade for 27 years, said the plant depicts an agapanthus - a South African plant of the lily family, which has funnel-shaped blue flowers that grow in rounded clusters - and a fern.

"It is a private commission and will eventually form an archway to a garden, the agapanthus being a favourite flower of the lady of the house," he added. "We are going to join it together with a shiny spider's web."

Most of the work on the ornate piece was done by employee Adam Boydell, over a period of three months. He was helped by former employee John Hall, who is on a tour of Europe from his current base in New Zealand.

Mr Russell said the piece had attracted a lot of attention, with motorists stopping to have a look and the local bus driver monitoring its progress, especially as the final touches of paint were added.

Although the sculpture will be privately owned, much of Mr Russell's work is on public display.

He featured in the D&S Times when he refurbished the gates and lanterns at the entrance to the Bowes Museum and is currently working on an entrance feature for a new development in Darlington.

But one of his most famous commissions was to make the gates for the Globe Theatre in London.

Although Mr Russell has a busy order book, he is always on the look-out for new projects and can be contacted on 01833 660547.