Newcastle’s art gallery scene

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Only a ten-minute journey by train from Durham, Newcastle offers a plethora of gallery destinations, right on our North-Eastern doorstep. Although Durham has a profound lack of gallery spaces, including the absence of a designated space to display Durham University’s growing art collection, Newcastle’s range of artistic institutions provides more options than you could imagine.

I hope to introduce you to a selection of Newcastle’s galleries, from the more well known, established collections, to the much smaller, unsung institutions. The first two galleries fall under the former, and the last three, the latter. However, all these galleries are of merit and worth visiting, so don’t just go to the larger ones!

1. Laing Art Gallery

Founded by Newcastle-based wine and spirit merchant Alexander G. Laing in 1901, the Laing Art Gallery is a treasure trove, containing and housing an extensive collection of a complete mixture of both nationally and internationally renowned artworks, artefacts, objects and sculptures. The Laing collection is renowned for its British oil paintings, watercolours, ceramics, silver, and glassware. The gallery’s exhibition programme has a regular turnover and encompasses historic, modern, and contemporary art.

Currently on show is a community-based project entitled These are Our Treasures by Ruth Ewan, and an exhibit showcasing the historic Lindisfarne Gospels.

Opening times: Daily from 10am-7:30pm

Laing Art Gallery, New Bridge St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AG

2. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Located in Gateshead, Baltic is a converted mill and has an enormous exhibition space which is wholly dedicated to showcasing art of both today and tomorrow. After the opening of their doors in 2002, they have arguably dominated the contemporary art scene within Gateshead and have put on well over 250 exhibitions so far. Baltic don’t have a permanent collection, but do have a stellar programme of exhibitions.

Currently, the exhibitions on show are called Land of Friends by Colombian artist Carolina Cayendo and Mythmachine, an “immersive visual playground” by Sahej Rahal.

Opening times: Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, S Shore Rd, Gateshead, NE8 3BA

3. Vane Gallery

Vane is both a public gallery and a workspace for artists from all over the world, with a focus on artists from the local area. Set up in 1997, the concept of the start-up was to nurture up-and-coming artists, not only by providing them with studio spaces, but also providing a platform through which they can exhibit their work and grow within their artistic careers.

The exhibition on at the moment at Vane is a contemporary exhibition inspired by space exploration, entitled The Human Spaceship – Upon the Moon by Sunderland-based artist Helen Schell. Vane only has one artists’ work on display at any one time and the exhibition turnover is very high so if you like the sound of this, then visit soon!

Opening times: Wednesday-Saturday from 12-5pm

Vane, 65 High Street, Gateshead, NE8 2AP

4. Side Gallery

Opened in 1971, Side Gallery is a documentary photography gallery hidden away, tucked up off a pedestrian lane from a main road. With the number of contemporary art galleries in Newcastle, Side Gallery is a refreshing break from painting and sculpture, instead being wholly focused on documentary photography regarding various subject matters.

Their current exhibition is entitled Classic Street Style and is a combined effort of three photographers, incorporating photographs from New York, Paris, and Newcastle, vividly capturing life across different cities. When I visited Side Gallery recently, I saw an exhibition called Eruptions, by Indian activist and photographer, Poulomi Basu. Their programme of exhibitions is varied and eclectic, definitely worth checking out!

Opening times: Thursday/Friday 11-5 and Saturday/Sunday 12-5pm

5-9 Side, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 3JE

5. The NewBridge Project

Like Vane, The NewBridge Project is an artist-led gallery and studio space that supports artists, curators, and local communities. They do this through the use of a multifunctional space for creative practice, providing curatorial opportunities, and pioneering an ambitious artist-led programme of exhibitions, commissions, and events.

The exhibition on currently at The NewBridge Project is a collaborative effort between a dozen artists entitled Habit, Ability!. Within this joint artistic endeavour, the concept of inhabiting a damaged planet is considered, as is the relationship between the arts sector and its various consequential environmental impacts.

Opening times: Wednesday-Friday from 12-5pm

The NewBridge Project, 4 Clarence Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1AL

With thanks to Alix Collingwood-Swinburn, Curator (Contemporary Art), Durham University

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