Terrible weather didn’t deter me from taking a wander around Ouseburn open weekend, where lots of the local studios – including The Biscuit Factory and Lime Street Studios – throw open their doors and you get a chance to meet the artists.
It was a lovely event – I could have spent a fortune, but limited myself to a picture and a couple of greeting cards. We also stopped for coffee in Hotel du Vin, which is a great pit stop in the area, in a beautifully repurposed building.
The biggest surprise of all though was the Quayside market. When I was growing up this was mainly somewhere packed with cheap shell suits and (probably) knock off DVDs, but now it is a foodie paradise with a range of great stalls. Definitely one for a return visit!
Last night was my first trip to Newcastle literary salon, New Art Social, at Ernest in Ouseburn. A low key, friendly night (£3.50 a ticket if you aren’t reading) in the back room of the super-chilled Ernest (though there was a loud party in the front bar, which meant some of the readers were competing with booze-fuelled revelling), it was a really interesting night. I was there to support a friend who was reading a short story she just had published in the magazine Lungs, but the standard throughout was pretty high and I was very taken with some of the work, a mix of novel extracts, short stories and poems.
Everyone was very chatty and nice although, swathed in leopard-print and shiny boots (let’s face it, just my standard Monday outfit), and guzzling prosecco while everyone else seemed to have gone low-key dark knitwear and pints, I did feel slightly like I’d gate-crashed from Ab Fab and turned up at the wrong event…
As regular readers will know, I am already a local at Northern Stage, and if I am not seeing a show there, I can still regularly be found in the cafe, writing over a cup of coffee.
But there are other treats in the building, and downstairs at the minute is a fascinating photography exhibition celebrating 25 years of BalletLORENT, on display before the venue hosts a four-night celebration in November.
Even if ballet isn’t your thing, the black and white photos are a interesting look at performance and bodies – and since it’s free and on the way to the ladies loos, you might as well have a look.
Went for a birthday brunch to The Factory Kitchen at the Biscuit Factory, in the newly revitalised Ouseburn. I have been to the gallery before, and liked it, but never eaten at any of the eateries. The Factory Kitchen is, I think, the most affordable, and I will definitely be going back: the grilled cheese sandwich was one of the best I have ever had, and my companion was equally taken with her eggs Benedict. The only downside was it was so filling that even after we took a break to walk around the art and enjoy a pop up jewellery shop (the main gallery also sells some lustworthy pieces), we were still so full that her plan to buy me a slice of cake was thwarted and we had to settle for another coffee instead…
One of the most iconic symbols of Gateshead regeneration, the Baltic is a stunning building put to good use. My friend S & I wandered down after our delicious brunch at Backyard Bike Shop, past all the preparations for the Great North Run at the weekend.
From the viewing box at the top that has one of the best views in the city, we worked our way down from floor to floor. Most of the place was dominated by pieces for the Great Exhibition of the North, my favourite of which was a photography show done in collaboration with the Side, Women by Women, featuring black and white pictures taken in the region. (And it’s all free!)
A slightly dry cheese scone and a cup of coffee in the cafe and a mooch around the fabulous gift shop completed our visit, and we were ready to head for a beer…
While wandering up from The Side, I happened across this odd little piece of art outside the Theatre Royal: a board that changes with messages to, apparently, reflect our relationship to the city. It’s a piece by Naho Matsuda and I’m not sure I understand it, really, but it’s quirky and fun.
Getting my culture on, I popped into The Side Gallery today to catch their exhibition About The North: Imagined Dialogues before it closed. I have long loved the Side. It’s free, holds interesting events that manage to be both locally focused and grounded without being parochial, and it’s small enough that you can take in a whole exhibition before your feet start to hurt.
About the North was a gorgeous show: a mix of photographers, some I had heard of but had no idea had ever set foot in the North East (Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Brandt), some known for their Northern-focused fare (Martin Parr) and some I was unfamiliar with. Much of the older photography was focused on poverty – indeed, some of it was from projects that had been commissioned specially to illustrate things like housing issues – but it was presented with a warmth and humanity that stopped me feeling like I was gawking.
The exhibition only runs till Sep 9: catch it if you can!