Great Exhibition of the North at BALTIC, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Michael Dean, Portikus 2017. Great Exhibition of the North, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead

Great Exhibition of the North 2018 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle 22 June — 9 September 2018 Entrance is free

Harking back to the great exhibitions of yore, this summer Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead play host to an 80-day celebration of art, culture, design and innovation from across the North, in what will be the largest event of its kind happening in England during 2018. If you’re ambitious enough to plan on experiencing the whole thing, we suggest beginning with each of the festival’s three core locations – Great North Museum, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead – before going on to explore the 30 other venues and public spaces on either side of the River Tyne across which it will unfold.

We’re particularly looking forward to visiting BALTIC however, where not one but 10 solo and group exhibitions of contemporary art will simultaneously be on show, presenting work by a broad range of northern-based artists including Ryan Gander, Tim Etchells, Jane and Louise Wilson, and Turner Prize 2017 winner Lubaina Himid. Look out in particular for Michael Dean: Having you on, featuring a major new immersive installation by the artist, dealing with the themes of language, intimacy and ‘the politics of being in the world’.

Aside from the big names, a series of projects titled Idea of North, presented in pavilions, architectural constructions and guest-curated displays throughout BALTIC’s Level 4 gallery, will collectively offer a playful response to the convention of the ‘expo’ event, whilst exploring the concept of ‘a northern identity’ through photography, music and design. We Are Where We Are, meanwhile, will feature new and existing works by the 11 Liverpool Biennial Associate Artists – housed in, underneath and between treated walls – that offers ‘a dark place for moving forward’.

Unfortunately, it’s hard not to read The Great Exhibition’s overarching ambition to ‘help change perceptions of the North by presenting a new dynamic story of the area’ as rather patronising, and without a degree of scepticism. Yet, BALTIC’s summer offering looks likely to offer a solid antidote to this in the form of a nuanced, multi-faceted perspective on the idea of ‘northernness’ in the context of today.

Great Exhibition of the North 2018 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle 22 June — 9 September 2018 Entrance is free

Where to go near Great Exhibition of the North at BALTIC, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Trakol
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Trakol

On the Gateshead quayside, underneath the Tyne bridge is one of the best locations to go for a meal in Newcastle and Gateshead. In what was once derelict land on the quayside, now exists a fantastic shipping container village of purposely rusted shipping containers.

Shipley Art Gallery
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Shipley Art Gallery

The Shipley Art Gallery can be found on Prince Consort Road (named after Queen Victoria’s Husband – Prince Albert) and was created in 1917 after Joseph Shipley, a local solicitor, bestowed his collection of 504 paintings to create a gallery for local people.

CBK Adventures
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CBK Adventures

CBK Adventures deliver award-winning coastal activities including guided tours and lessons in kayaking and paddle boarding.

Quayside
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Quayside

The Quayside of Newcastle (and its sister town of Gateshead) is a hugely popular location in the city, featuring seven bridges spanning the impressive river, linking Newcastle to Gateshead and providing scope for many walks and tourist attraction.

Live Theatre
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Live Theatre

The Live Theatre has a fantastic reputation for developing, writing and producing new plays and shows every year. The Live Theatre started in 1973. It was at first a traveling theatre company, which started by telling stories that were relatable to daily life in the North East of England and presented these plays to local people – which it has continued to do to this day.

The Side Gallery
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The Side Gallery

The Side Gallery can be found on a small medieval street down by Newcastle’s Quayside. The Gallery itself is inside of an old warehouse, which by itself is a fantastic building to explore. Once you have entered the gallery, you are walking into one of the most important collections of film and photography in the British Isles.

Newcastle Castle
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Newcastle Castle

Discover the castle that gave Newcastle its name, taking in a 12th-century fortress that has been added to over the centuries.

Boiler Shop
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Boiler Shop

A Grade II* Listed former locomotive works from the 1820’s, now and events space hosting some of Newcastle’s most exciting event; from live performances, club nights and exhibitions, to food and drink festivals.

The Literary and Philosophical Society
Newcastle
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The Literary and Philosophical Society

A stone’s throw from Newcastle’s Central Station, and around the corner from Newcastle’s Castle, is The Lit and Phil. Only a few years younger than Manchester’s, The Lit and Phil is the second oldest literary and philosophical society in the United Kingdom.

Gateshead
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Saltwell Park

Nestled in the heart of Gateshead, the beautiful, historical grounds of Saltwell Park are a perfect place to spend the day.

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