Long time- no write.
Sorry, I haven’t been 100% recently, so I haven’t done much blogging here. And my other blog and Youtube channel have been monopolosing my time (and also my actual full-time job). Anyway, I’ve not done any real traveling but I did go on a day trip to Newcastle.
The Baltic Art Gallery in Newcastle is housed in a former flour mill and is now the largest dedicated contemporary art space in the UK. It opened in 2002, and has since had 6 million visitors and 190 exhibitions. This is on their website by the way, I’m not stalking them…
Viewing platforms on floors 4 and 5 give a great view of the Tyne and Millennium Bridge. Technically, I think the gallery is in Gateshead as it’s on that side of the river but you can look out over Gateshead and Newcastle.
Oh and it’s free!
When we were there there were three exhibitions. Our favourite was a retrospective of Rasheed Araeen. Araeen was not an artist I was familiar with but the exhibition showed six decades of his work. Most notable were the deceptively simple geometric structures in bright, bold colours of the 1960’s, and his much more political work of the 1970’s and 80’s.
The Baltic’s ‘mission’ is to ‘create greater understanding of the world through outstanding, experimental and inspiring contemporary art which has power, relevance and meaning for individuals and communities.’
I can see the experimental side coming out in the Heather Phillipson exhibition, The Age of Love. Again, according to the Baltic’s website Phillipson, ‘presents a series of videos, sounds and objects that operate as landmarks in a remixed geology.’ I literally have no clue what that means and I walked through the exhibition.
‘Somewhere between agricultural vista and lunar wasteland, BALTIC’s galleries become a spatio-temporal ‘field’, punctuated by functioning farm equipment, holding pens and the noise of circling gulls.’
My own interpretation is that it was like being inside a migraine. Quite like a club but with no people (on the day we were there). It’s pretty low light, but with flashing psychedelic imagery on numerous TV screens. There was a giant screen of a cat with spinning eyes, and a large sculpture of a foot. Also there was a noise.
The poor staff that have to work that exhibition…
The last exhibition was BALTIC Then and Now, a history of the Baltic gallery itself. I wonder if 16 years is really long enough an existence to warrant a historical exhibition. Perhaps a little self-indulgent, and the space could have been given to an actual artist? Well, in a way the space has been given to a few artists as the exhibition is mainly a collection of short films showing the different exhibitions the gallery has showed over the years. This includes some artist interviews as well as behind-the-scenes shots of the exhibitions being erected. There’s a timetable of the films which is worth taking a gander at when you arrive so you don’t miss your artist of choice.
This the second time I’ve been to the Baltic and I do think it’s worth a visit. Despite being the largest dedicated contemporary art thingy in the UK, it doesn’t feel that big. The key word is ‘dedicated’, so art galleries show casing contemporary and traditional are disregarded. Also there are two restaurants, a nice shop, and two viewing spaces which all takes up a bunch of space.
The result is a visit-able gallery that won’t totally exhaust you. And it’s free!
The Age of Love
19 October 2018 – 24 March 2019
BALTIC Then & Now
3 November 2018 – 4 January 2019
19 October 2018 – 27 January 2019