Some Observations of the Finnish Political System by Sakari Piipo at the Finnish Museum of Photography

Hi there, Alice here! As I said I’d do in this week’s episode, here’s a blog post about one of the cool exhibitions I saw when I visited The Finnish Museum Photography in Helsinki last month. So, here we go.

Some Observations on the Political System in Finland by Sakari Piipo is exactly that: some observations on how politics and politicians are conducted/conduct themselves in Finland. But before you think about the red-faced, emotive paparazzi shots of politicians you’d see adorned on the front pages of a tabloid, think again. What we have here is a fantastic mix of the mundane. Things like the crumpled suits and ties of politicians after a long day, and the types of shoes that some of them choose to wear. These two themes specifically have been curated into very visually-appealing displays.

What I found so compelling about Piipo’s work is the flash photography element. A style often reserved for the more paparazzi-style shooting where good lighting is necessary to capture the subject, here it makes the normal and the uninteresting stand out. People behind laptops and enjoying a sit-down between meetings become more coveted and exciting moments, not just an everyday activity.

My favourite section of this exhibition, purely for the aesthetic of the subject matter, is the section about voting. These little Finnish voting booths, not too dissimilar from the ones we’re accustomed to in the UK, are just adorable. Their delightful pastel colours, accentuated by the flash of Piipo’s camera, contrast with the pair of legs you see of the anonymous voters. Simply put, it just looks so bizarre, and that’s why I love it. 

An interesting part of this exhibition is the one titled ‘Sensorship’. Not long into this 3-year documentary project, a government official dictated that Piipo was “in possession of property belonging to the Prime Minister’s office”. The argument was, despite Piipo’s lawyer arguing to the contrary, that the rights to the photos they had taken “are silently transferred to us [the Prime Minister’s office]”. This, of course, is nonsense as the photographer always retains the rights to their work. Sure, a motion could be filed to prevent them from being shown in a public forum. But the rights would not be transferred to the government. What a weird thing to say. Either way, despite Piito going though and censoring every identifiable image of a politician (see below) no agreement was ever reached, and one can see these photos in the exhibition or in Piito’s book of the same name. 

I was very pleasantly surprised by this exhibition and glad I popped along. Whilst it’s on for a while I can’t really recommend you go see it because it’s all the way in Finland. Of course, if you’re in the area then absolutely go for it! There were two other fab exhibitions on as well for you to sink your teeth into! 

Thanks for giving this a read! 

-Alice 

Cheeseburn Sculpture 2019

Every year Cheeseburn has a sculpture festival and this was the first time my Dad and I went along to check it out. Spoiler: it was amazing! If there’s one thing we love its a big old stately home, and although we couldn’t go in this one (it’s privately owned), the expansive lands around it filled with amazing art made do.

The grange has over 70 pieces of art by dozens of artists and there was so much in terms of style and variety; truly something for everybody. I don’t really know how to talk about everything we saw so I guess I could just go by favourites, both mine and my Dad’s.

First up, mine: the first thing we saw, because I saw it through the doors as we went to go get a map from the lady, was the lovely Erin Dickson’s amazing Authentic Venetian Chandelier, which we talked about a bit in our Abject Gallery Double-Bill episode a couple months back. It was cool seeing it irl, all lit up in an old stable.

The story behind this is fab: Erin was visiting a museum or gallery somewhere in Italy and when trying to take a photo of a stunning Venetian glass chandelier, she was told she wasn’t allowed. However, one thing she learned she was able to do was to use a mobile 3D scanning app, so she scanned this then printed the whole thing. The result is obviously very unlike the original piece, and goes to show that new technologies aren’t the pinnacle of contemporary ways of making. I do love this chandelier though and would love to have a house big enough that I could have it in a grand entryway or something.

Next up is one of my Dad’s favourites. Following the trail around we went into the game larder, where glass artist Ayako Tani was showing some of her remarkably delicate and detailed glass ships in bottles, which were also available to purchase. These things are absolutely amazing, and one of those things (like most sculpture tbf) that I’ve got no idea whatsoever how you’d go about making. We said hello and goodbye to Ayako, and on our way out she told us she has an exhibition on in the chapel as well, which I for whatever reason assumed was going to be a really large glass ship in a bottle. What’s much more impressive than 1 large ship in a bottle, however, is like 150 small ships in bottles, covering almost every surface of this cute little chapel. I mean just look at this:

Here’s a quote from my Dad: “I’ve always had a fascination with ships in bottles, but this was on a whole other level. It was amazing. It must have been so difficult making it all with glass, even the little ropes and everything.”

We followed the trail around and came to another favourite of mine:

These little monkeys are Brigitte Jurack’s Scavengers, and there were a whole bunch of them they were fab. The parts of them covered in yellow look to be some kind of wax, and like at most exhibitions I go to it was all I could do not to touch them and find out. The rock in the foreground there is called The Oxton Rock and reminded me a bit of Elmer the Elephant which was pretty neat.

This next piece is a definite favourite of both myself and my Dad; it’s ‘Enlightenment?’ by Peter Hamner. Anyone who has visited Baltic recently to check out Digital Citizen (or at least anyone who’s listened to our episode about it), would recognise these mildly disturbing figures and dystopian scenes. They’re awesome.  

“It was weird like. I know art’s a subjective thing, everyone gets something different out of it, but to me this one showed just how crazy the world is.”

Another fave of mine was ‘Nostalgia de la boue: Plastic Friend’ by Clare Townley. Townley is the winner of last year’s Gillian Dickinson award which enabled her to make this and install it at Cheeseburn. It’s made up entirely of waste and repurposed plastic and transforms this delightful copse of trees into a dystopian installation that makes you consider the impact of plastic on our environment. There’s even a swing you can sit on to do this contemplating, looking out onto the untouched landscape nearby (which my Dad is doing here).

I’m gonna finish up by sharing a favourite of my Dad’s, and something we both had a bit of fun with. It’s this cool glass piece by Cate Watkinson (I’m pretty sure anyway), and we both thought that the little bubbles in the glass were raindrops, however we loved this little convex lens aspect of it because it made our faces look funny from each side.

So that just about does it for this blog post. Cheeseburn is free to go to (however they are a charity and rely on donations), so it’s absolutely worth a visit. The only thing is that you pretty much have to drive there, I’ve got no idea how you would even nearly get a bus to this place. If you do head along though let us know, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

-Alice

Cheeseburn is open somewhat sporadically over the summer:

  • June 29th / 30th
  • July 6th / 7th
  • August 24th / 25th / 26th
  • August 31st / September 1st

Here’s some more information.

Location: Cheeseburn Grange

Exhibition Further Thoughts: using a 100-year-old camera

Hey there, Alice here. As you all may or may not know I am an avid photographer, and my main medium is that of analogue photography. Now, a lot of the analogue cameras you may have seen look pretty recognisable, like compact cameras, disposable cameras and slrs, however they didn’t start out like this. After seeing the subject of this week’s episode ‘No Man’s War’ at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, and an old Kodak Vest Pocket Camera in a display cabinet, I was inspired to write a little bit about using the oldest camera I own.

So this camera is a Kodak Brownie No.2, and it’s literally a cardboard box with a spring shutter and a couple of bits of glass/plastic. This model in particular hails from all the way back in 1917 (ish), which coincides with the First World War and the subject of much of the exhibition. Back in the day this type of camera was the everyday camera for families, much like the disposable camera. When you shot a roll of film with this camera you’d just take the whole thing back to the shop, and they would take the film out, develop it, print it and load up a new roll of film, making it ready to use immediately.

Despite its age and ridiculously simple design (its very much the definition of a point-and-shoot camera, there’s nothing by way of settings or adjustments to make), the photos this camera makes can be pretty amazing. A quirk the images have is a really sharp centre, however the edges can be pretty blurred, which I imagine is because of the quality of the super old lens. The negatives you get from this camera are also pretty ridiculous in how big they are: a whopping 6x9cm. To see the comparison between this size and 35mm film, here’s this handy-dandy diagram.

One of the main reasons I fell in love with shooting film was the fun you can have trying out old cameras like this, the ones that you don’t really see anything like anymore. Also you can find them for real cheap on eBay so that’s always a plus!

I hope you liked this little look into my little world of photography, and if you’re thinking of taking up film photography I’d really recommend having a go of a box camera like this – it’s so much fun!

-Alice

Further Thoughts: The Naked Portrait and Life Drawing

This week, myself and Alice discussed our experiences at ‘The Naked Portrait’ currently at the Laing. We would really recommend giving it a visit using the discount on their Facebook page!) and if you haven’t heard our thoughts you can give it a listen here.

In its exploration of the difference between ‘naked’ and ‘nude’ the exhibition included some examples of life drawing that I found to be truly mesmerising. During all of my education I was never given the opportunity to try life drawing (absolutely shocking for an art student) and so this is something I chose to pursue after I had graduated. I love the act of studying the human form and feel it has improved my observation skills and my decisive mark making, i.e the ability to make a bold mark on a page with confidence.

Even more importantly, my weekly life drawing classes are like therapy. For 3 hours a week I sit in a room and think only about the model and the paper in front of me. I liken the experience to meditation.

I feel this is something that anyone who enjoys drawing should try! whether you identify as an artist or not, life drawing can help you build an arsenal of skills that you will use beyond drawing the human form. Its also fun to spend some time in the presence of nudity without sexual connotations that are now common place in society today – something which can be a little strange at first but that I now find quite liberating.

As always, I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce the idea that there are no rights or wrongs in art – and life drawing is no exception! Even if you are in a room full of other people drawing the same subject, a prospect that can be quite intimidating, what you see will be different to everyone else. Your artistic eye and style will shine through in whatever you do, but more literally your viewpoint of the sitter will be slightly different and therefore so will your artwork. If you find yourself in a class will many other artists it can be very inspiring to see what everyone else produces and see how they have managed to capture the model from their vantage point.

I enjoy using colour to abstract my work. I also find something highly satisfying about ‘half finished’ pieces in which some sections of the body are highly detailed and others are left as an outline:

Soft Pastel

How to find the life drawing class that works for you:

There are a few options out there so all you need to do is consider the price, frequency, time, style and travel/distance evolved. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can sign up to courses that last multiple weeks or sessions that run on a week-by-week basis. to save you some googling I have compiled a few examples that may be appealing to you. But remember, there are plenty more out there (for example if you are part of a university the arts society may run life drawing classes).

Cobalt Studios:
If you’re after a low-key life drawing experience, Cobalt Studios might be the one for you! Each evening promises to offer a slightly different experience but good music and art is a garment. This is a self lead experience with no teacher, but feel free to reach out to your classmates for advice and feedback! You will need to bring your own materials and sketchbook but boards and paper is provided.
http://www.cobaltstudios.co.uk/event/lifedrawing-tickets-247259

Local Council Adult Learning:
Local councils have an obligation to make sure that all of their citizens have access to learning opportunities and usually have a selection of courses available. Legally they must provide at least Maths and English level 2, but many also offer leisure courses (depending on the local council in question). Since graduating university I have completed courses in ceramics, creative writing and life drawing all of which were offered by my local council’s adult learning programme. I feel it is vitally important to use these services while they are here as, with government cuts to both education and the arts, they may not be around for much longer! By enrolling on these courses we are proving that they are valued and important and give the council a reason to keep them running! There are often discounts available too which are worth checking out!
Below I have included the websites to some local council websites so that you can have a look at the prospectuses and spy any arts courses that you may be interested in.
North Tyneside: https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/225/finding-right-course
Newcastle: http://www.newcastlecitylearning.ac.uk/
Sunderland: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12113/Libraries-museums-events
Middlesbrough: http://www.mcls.ac.uk/art.html

Newcastle Arts Centre:
Newcastle Arts Centre host a variety of different art classes. Their life drawing workshop spans over 4 days and all of the materials are provided. All abilities are welcome and the classes appear to be very structured, so if this is the work environment you could benefit from go check it out!
https://www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk/product/life-drawing-2019/

The Lit & Phil:
The Lit & Phil is an independent library in Newcastle, housing over 170,000 books, making it the largest independent outside of London. However this institution is so much more than a library; it is also a historic building, a meeting place, office, theatre, lecture hall, jazz venue, performance space and, a classroom! Classes, including life drawing are offered here so check out their website to see how you can get involved. As the Lit & Phil is independent this could be an amazing way to support one of Newcastle’s coolest venues and learning institutions.
http://www.litandphil.org.uk/whats-on/2018/apr/life-drawing/

…………

When signing up for life drawing, try not to worry too much about finding a course that is specifically for ‘beginners’ (or the level that you feel you are at), as life drawing is something that even the most experienced art master would need to practice throughout their art career. I would however suggest that if you have never done life drawing before that you choose a course that has a tutor as they will be able to provide you with some art theory and techniques to get you started.

These are just a few examples of the numorous classes that are out there!

I hope this helps you in your search for art classes or perhaps even inspires you to consider taking one if you hadn’t considered it before.

-Rosie Stronach

Meet the Medium: Film Photography

Hey hey, Alice here! Inspired by this week’s episode where we went along to Side Gallery in Newcastle to check out J A Mortram’s poignant and emotional photography exhibition, ‘Small Town Inertia’, I thought I’d introduce some of you to the world of film photography.

This is my main medium; a large part of my degree was photography, however it took me until my final year to delve into using film. This is probably for the best because given the nature of film: you’re not able to check your shot immediately, you’re restricted to a certain number of shots per roll of film, and you don’t necessarily have a lot of range when it comes to editing, so I’m glad I actually learned how to take and compose images first.

Here’s some stuff:

This is an example of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, and is one I’m currently trying out. IT’s a Zenit 11 which is one of the many Soviet-made cameras from the 60s which I managed to get on eBay in surprisingly good nick. This works pretty much the same as a DSLR today, but instead of having a screen to view your settings and images you need to load it with film, for which there is a tonne to choose from, and take generally no more than 36 with a single roll.

This is a roll of 35mm film which you could use in the above camera. In particular it’s a roll of Lomography 100 which is a colour negative film and currently my fave – it’s pretty cheap and the colours you get from it are just fab. Colour negative film means that when it’s developed (which you can still do at Max Spielmann’s for cheap-ish) the colours are inverted. If you were to to print them in a darkroom or scan them using dedicated software the colours will invert, giving you a positive image.

Here’s some pictures I’ve taken using this film:

This is an example of a medium format film, so named because it’s in between ‘small format’ (35mm cameras) and large format (4×5 and upwards – this is v expensive so I haven’t tried any of these one). For pretty much all medium format films you you 120 film, which is rolled onto a spool with a paper backing rather than into a light-tight canister. As such the frames can be a range of different sizes (not the uniform size of 35mm). The camera in this photo is an Agfa Isolette which I managed to get on eBay for a fiver, and it’s from all the way back in 1953  – it works amazingly despite its age! When using 120 film you get square photos (6×6), and take 12 shots per roll of film.

Sometimes these older cameras and more simple ones have no way of interpreting what the light is like, and therefore what the setting should be to get a correctly exposed image (this is obvi pretty simple to do on DSLRs and things like mobile phone cameras do it automatically). As such light meters exist, and far more modern, accurate and digital ones exist but this is my trusty Weston light meter (also from the 1950s I think?) You simply tell the light meter what the speed of your film is (like the ISO of digital cameras), point it at the thing you’re taking a photo of, and the meter will give you an indication of the apertures and shutter speeds you could use to make the photo.

Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with this camera:

There’s so much to say about photography and film general that this could turn into a small book real fast, so I might do another one of these sometime in the future. Thanks for having a read, and I’ll shamelessly plug my instagram (@alicethetriplet) so you can have a look and some of the things I’ve managed to make with film.

-Alice

All About hu: Impressions of the Hungarian Touring Exhibition

Hey guys, Amy here. It’s been a little while since I’ve shown my face (more like voice, or words) to this podcast, but trust me, I’m still around! It’s been a busy time but you should be getting a little more content from me, whether you like it or not.

So by now you must have listened to the latest episode of Hey Art, What’s Good? In it, myself, Alice and Rosie went along to the Abject Gallery to check out the hu exhibition. We were invited by one of the organisers, Andras Nagy-Sandor, to see the works of five Hungarian artists living and practicing in the UK.

This exhibition focuses on what’s lost or gained in each translation of the artist’s work. Before taking it to Newcastle, hu showed in Dundee. After Newcastle, it will go on to show in London, and it’s designed to change in response to each gallery it comes to.

When you walk into the room, the first things you see is a striking object by artist Zsofia Jakab. This is what first looks like an old spinning wheel but upon closer inspection looks more like an insect. It has insect-like legs and the wool it’s spinning looks more like cobwebs. Jakab came to Dundee from Budapest to study art and was inspired by university workshops to move her practice towards sculpture.


Next to this piece and dotted around the room were the works of Zsofia Schweger. Her paintings of interiors show that while her environment has changed, interiors stay the same. Her paintings look very aesthetically pleasing with pastel colours and perfect symmetry. I personally feel that they offer a sense of nostalgia as they make me think of old Pokemon games too. I also find these paintings very calming to look at. After studying abroad myself (in Hungary actually!) I found that the big change in environments could be overwhelming at times. But going back to familiar places such as a bedroom or library could offer me some solace.


One of the most noticeable pieces in the room was that of Petra Szeman. At the back of the room was a TV and headphones showing her moving image piece. Szeman is from Budapest and now lives in Tsukuba, Japan. Her moving image piece features an anime character that is both herself, and a character that looks like her.  It mixes anime and video game styles with real-life photographs and videos. Instead of a voice over or speech, she uses video-game style typed speech. She goes through a day visiting landmarks around her Japanese city and reflects on her time there. It’s an enthralling piece of art to watch and I can’t say I’ve seen work like this before, so it definitely left an impression.


These are only a few of the pieces we saw at the hu exhibition at the Abject Gallery. There were of course many more amazing pieces of artwork on display that I didn’t get around to discussing. Whether you catch their Newcastle show or make it to their London show, go see them yourself!

We also have a bunch of other blog posts for you to read, so go check them out here.

-Amy Smith

Meet the Medium: Watercolour

Hello all, Rosie here! As we mentioned in this weeks episode about ‘Watercolour at War’ currently exhibiting at the Laing, I am a practising artist who primarily uses watercolour and ink.  To celebrate the Laing’s watercolour gallery I thought it would be nice to introduce you to my materials and how I got to know them.

There is no right or wrong way to use watercolours (or any other medium for that matter), what’s important is that you find a system that works for you and makes it easy and enjoyable for you to express yourself through creativity.

If you are not a painter but are interested in learning how, starting a new 2019 hobby perhaps, watercolours could be a fabulous choice. As we discussed in the episode, watercolours are quick drying, easy to set up and pack away, portable and above all fun! There are so many different techniques to learn and play with that you will be able to find the style that feels right for you! Watercolour allows for a wide range of artistic expression, which is one of the reasons ‘Watercolour at War’ was such a varied exhibition.

As I am a big believer in learning through play, I would recommend just having a go! Because it is activated by water you can continue to use your pallet once the paint has dried meaning you can pick up your painting at any point and you are less likely to waste any of your paint or ruin any of your brushes if you forget to wash them (which is always a bonus for a forgetful artist like myself).

As a child, I was given watercolour paints as my first paints as they are water soluble meaning they would not stain my clothes or make an irreversible mess. I started out with tins of very affordable ‘beginners’ paints, a couple of which have survived to this day. These were a fantastic starting point and would keep me entertained for hours. As I was young, I would usually need to be supervised when using liquid paints such as poster paint or acrylic, however as watercolour was solid I could play with these as often as I wanted. Playing with pallets such as these gave me a good understanding of mixing colours, an understanding of how to implement the correct amount of water to activate the paints and achieve the look I needed and, arguable most importantly, how to not cross contaminate colours and waste paint having to clean it up. Too many times in my childhood was my white paint pink. These were all important lessons in the fundamentals of painting that can be applied to many other mediums.

As I got older and was trusted not to destroy all my clothes and my house, I was given a Winsor and Newton pallet and a Van Gogh pallet. These originally came with little brushes (which are now lost to the ages) and would serve me well for many years. The colour was richer, much more pigmented. The paint mixed with the water with more ease than my earlier pallets which were dusty in comparison. Unlike my last pallets, each colour was in a self contained tray they could be replaced when empty. This also gave me the luxury of rearranging the colours to my liking and giving the pallet a deep clean in between projects. As I had no money I quickly discovered that you could refill the trays with paint from a tube and maintain a fully functioning pallet for a reduced cost. The Van Gogh pallet was a gift from my grandad and has always been a favourite.

flash forward to 2016. I have graduated and have now been using watercolour as a serious hobby for 3 years. With new found freedom from the constraints of my university fine art practice, I take the time to dabble in watercolour more seriously and decide to use my tubes of paint to create my own pallet. I pick up this repetitively cheap plastic pallet and add all of the colours I feel I am likely to use in an order that makes sense to me.

Although my pallet may look messy there is method to the madness! The mixing trays feature some of the colours I have mixed for ongoing projects that I can activate again simply by adding water. once I have completed my project I can give the trays a wipe down with a cloth to restore order and start all over again! This is unlike most other mediums, which would be unusable once they have dried. For this reason one could perhaps argue that watercolours are less wasteful than other paints, such as acrylic which cannot be used once dry, as they do not demand that you asses exactly how much paint you will need for a painting session. Watercolour allows you to revisit the exact same pallet weeks after you mixed it, which can be quite useful if you have a busy schedule!

Because this is my first pallet, I can admit that I got a couple of details wrong which I can alter next time. For example I put the black and browns in the slots with no mixing tray which in retrospect I now know is not smart (I use this colours WAY more that I thought!) and I could probably do with one less blue. The beauty of this is that when my paints become scarce I can re do it!

Brushes:
Watercolours require soft brushes that can hold the water (and paint) as you use them. This inst a rule so feel free to use the brushes available to you or the ones that you prefer, but a soft brush is usually standard practice. My watercolour game was forever changed when I discovered these water brushes that can be filled with liquid and squeezed to distribute its contents into the bristles of the brush. I always have one of these in my pencil case ready to go as it allows me to start a quick painting wherever I am, even if water is limited! I have found you still need to clean them and use a container of water as you go, but I find this so so useful when using water soluble materials.

I would also like to try filling my water brushes with ink and having a play.

If you are interested in purchasing some watercolours but aren’t sure where to start you could pop into Details, the art supply shop in Newcastle Art Centre, which is a independent and family run store. The staff are super knowledgeable and will be more than happy to help and inform you about the watercolours available on the market. I also pick up a lot of my materials from Amazon, which is always good for a bargain!

If you know of any good art supply shops please let me know! I am always on the hunt for additions to my supplies and I am keen to support local businesses and independent shops!

Remember, you do not have to spend a lot of money on art materials! Work with what you have and what you can afford. You can still develop your skills and your craft with a £10 as you could a £100 pallet – its all about putting the time in. Practice makes perfect.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my medium! If you want to see what I do with these materials you can follow my practice on my Instagram! I sketchbook work, completed pieces and process videos in watercolour, ink and drawing so go check it out if you fancy it
@rosie.the.artist

Thanks for taking some time to meet my medium and happy art-ing my friends!

-Rosie

Art Daze: A Place to Recharge during an Art Day (Part 1)

Avoiding art fatigue is an important part of any art enthusiasts’ life! No matter what you call it (‘museum overload’ and ‘museum feet’ to give a few examples) the struggle is real. Art fatigue is a phrase that we have created to describe the feeling of exhaustion unique to a day traipsing round museums and art institutions. Everyone has their limits. After absorbing so much art, supporting documents and forming opinions and ideas surrounding these sources, it is easy to feel drained.

This can be particularly true when visiting open studios: So much to see and do! But also a lot of ground to cover! While reflecting on the Gateshead Open Studios featured in this weeks episode and with the Ouseburn Open Studios fast approaching, we felt it was important to make a public service announcement addressing this.

Time can fly in an art gallery, particularly the larger institutions such as the BALTIC or the Hancock Museum. Many times on their travels the ‘Hey Art, What’s Good?’ gang have lost track of time in the V&A, The British Museum or the Tate and have been struck down with art fatigue, wishing only for a helpful guide to lead them to a nice, affordable place to go for a brake. We do not wish anyone to feel this way in our very own Tyneside and so we have given this issue some thought…

The best medicine, we have found, is a sit down and a beverage. Like a fine wine to a meal, we have paired up gallery spaces to different bars and cafes which could provide you with a moment of refuge. Heading to a bar or café can provide an opportunity to have a think about the art you have just seen and let your reactions clarify. You can do this solo, perhaps perusing the free literature you picked up in the gallery over a brew and perfecting your Instagram post about your cultural experience, or among friends discussing the bits you enjoyed and the bits you didn’t. We have tried to choose pleasant and affordable establishments that are within walking distance of the art galleries we have included, so that if you need to take an emergency brake you need not fear. We enjoy cafes and bars which have a creative feel, so that they do not detract from your art day. No Wetherspoons will be found on this list!

We want to support the arts and creativity in Tyneside and feel that small, local and independent businesses fall under that. It is important that we give these places our support as they are helping sustain our local economy, are more environmentally sound and are bringing some diversity to Newcastle and Gateshead. These businesses are what makes Tyneside what it is. The bars and cafes we have chosen are by Geordies for Geordies. The businesses we have included in this list are places we actually go to and enjoy spending time! Let us know what you think and if you know of any good local bars and cafes near some art institutions please let us know! You can leave us a comment or reach out to us on:
Twitter and Instagram: @heyartwhatsgood
Gmail: heyartwhatsgood@gmail.com

 

Baltic and Sage

The Baltic and the Sage are two of the most important art institutions in the North East and represent a large part of the Northern arts scene. We expect that you may have been to both but if not we would strongly recommend!

         Block and Bottle   –

After spending time in the large and impressive art institutions along the river you may benefit from scaling down and enjoying the services of a small indie business. Rather than taking out a bank loan to afford a couple of pints at the Sage or Baltic bars (or even the rather pricey shipping container village) head on over to the Block and Bottle! Block and Bottle is a bottle shop and butchers combo which offers fridges packed with interesting cans and bottles that you don’t come across in your average shop. B&B also have a couple of taps so if that’s more your style don’t despair. Although at first it can be a bit strange to sit at the singular table among the meat counter, the place has good vibes, friendly staff and an impressive selection of drinks.

This is a foodies dream as you can grab a can and talk to the folks behind the counter about their produce, which Ellie almost always takes the opportunity to do!

We are also big fans of the art that can be found on beer cans! We have all been guilty of choosing a beer based on the art it features, but what can we say – we are slaves to the aesthetics! We recommend keeping the cans and upcycling them into plant pots or pencil holders. Just use a can opener to take off the top, give it a sand to avoid any sharp edges and give it a clean.
Distance from gallery: 13 minutes, 0.6 miles
14 Wellington St
Gateshead
NE8 2AJ

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         Station East      –

If you fancy a more traditional bar, Station east could be the place for you. With many nooks and crannies, this pub is perfect to settle down for a moment, rest your aching feet and enjoy a local brew. There are pies and pastries available behind the bar and this pub offers a loyalty card so that you can earn point for your beer (truly the perfect system!). Friendly staff are always happy to give a beer recommendation and feel free to ask for a taster so that you know which pint will pair correctly with your day of culture.
Distance from gallery: 12 minuets, 0.5 miles
Hills St
Gateshead
NE8 2AN

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          Grumpy Panda

Grumpy Pander may be one of the best kept secrets in Tyneside. Hidden just off the Gateshead high streets it offers an impressive selection of vegan cuisine. None of us here at ‘Hey Art, What’s Good?’ are vegan, but the food is so good it doesn’t matter! The diner offers hot and cold drinks and a fairly extensive menu of delicious food stuffs both sweet and savoury.
Distance from gallery: 21 minutes’ walk, 0.9 miles
14 Regent Terrace
Gateshead
NE8 1LU

 

System

System Gallery aims to provide a space for local up and coming contemporary artists to exhibit their work. This white gallery space usually has quite a fast turnover so it’s likely that you will see a different show each time to visit. The work is quite varied and so part of the excitement is not quite knowing what you’re going to get, but that is will probably be new and interesting!

         Bar Loco   –

Bar Loco is the obvious choice, seeing as you have to walk through the establishment to get to the gallery. However just like System, Bar Loco provides a space for the creatives of Newcastle to meet and showcase their ideas. Many a time have the girls of ‘Hey Art, What’s Good?’ wandered into a free gig, an open mic night and once a double bass practice. The bar is a space where political and activist groups meet and the space is oozing with art in its aesthetic.

We also believe that Bar Loco serves the best nachos in town, so grab a beer, order a sharing portion of nachos and talk about some art!
Distance from gallery: 0 minutes’ walk, 0.0 miles
22 Leazes Park Rd
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PG

         Tea Sutra   –

Just down the street from System Gallery is Tea Sutra Teahouse, a tea lover’s haven above the joke and costume show Magicbox on Percy Street. This café provides a space to meet with friends and family or simply have some time to yourself! The environment is cosy and the tea menu is extensive. Tea Sutra is a café which encourages you to enjoy a moment a stillness. Patrons can relax as they wait for the tea to brew and become cool enough to drink. If you ask nicely the employees also give out free refills in the form of a flask of boiling water that you can pour into your teapot to make the most of your tea leaves.

There is a small food menu which offers vegetarian and vegan curries, soups and wraps. It is also well worth trying the chi-of-the-day. There is a ritual to drinking tea this was that nurtures meditation. If your art day has you a bit flustered we recommend you pay Tea Sutra a visit.
Distance from gallery: 1 minute walk, 348 ft
1st Floor
2 Leazes Park Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PF

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The Great North Museum: The Hancock

 

         The Hancock (Pub)

With the very same name as the museum, it would be hard to avoid talking about the Hancock pub. Best known for its deals on alcohol and its student clientele, this bar is better catered to those on an art adventure with friends. The bar has pool, a decent smoking area and very reasonable prices on both the food and drink menu.
Distance from gallery: 5 minutes’ walk, 0.3 miles
2A Hancock St
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE2 4PU

         Quilliam Brothers’ Teahouse

Quilliams could be described as a creative space in its own right and so makes a wonderful addition to any art day. This family business (actually set up and run by three brothers) offers a vast selection of tea and coffee as well as a great food menu and a mouth-watering selection of sweet treats.

Kitted out with its own small cinema and frequently exhibiting artwork you can take this opportunity to have a break from one art day and browse through the Crack and Quilliams filers to see if there are any film screenings coming up that take your fancy.
Distance from gallery: 4 minutes’ walk, 0.2 miles
Claremont Buildings
1 Eldon Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RD

IMG_20181122_151013Photograph: Dylan McKee (@djmckee)

WOMEN IN ART: where to find out more…

For this week’s episode the HAWG? gang went to see the exhibition ‘WORTH’ by the wonderful Lady Kitt at Praxis Gallery (link to episode here!). The exhibition addressed the representation of women in the everyday. This got us thinking: like art, the fight for equality should be inclusive rather than exclusive. The point of equality is that it is for the benefit of everyone! But just like art, so many times we see feminist (and various other social movements fighting for equality) divided into the ‘right’ way to fight for equality and the ‘wrong’ way. Sometimes this can bog down the fight, making it unapproachable for those on the outskirts of the battlefield, wanting to join in but not knowing how and worried they might take a wrong step.

Our attitude to this, just like with art, is to start a dialogue. We are here to educate and debate. We know we do not have all the answers, but through conversation and debate we are eager to learn and grow. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, not everyone has to agree with them but we do have to respect them.

We have collected a few different resources with regards to feminism within the context of art. The links provided have information on feminism, activism, the male gaze vs. the female gaze and female artists generally doing cool things. We wanted to make sure that you have some materials to help maintain your arsenal of knowledge, or give you a starting point if you are interested but don’t know where to begin! To make sure there is something for everyone we have provided a variety of different formats so that you can choose to have a casual browse or a full-on deep dive.

And as always, please feel free to get in touch if you would like to continue the conversation!

 

To Read:

The male glance how we fail to take women’s stories seriously // Long read

www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/06/the-male-glance-how-we-fail-to-take-womens-stories-seriously

 

From Trump to Brexit: how bad graphics triumphed over slick design // Medium Read

Political art is on the street, in public space, made by the every-man and in plain sight. And in today’s political climate we have been seeing more and more of it. I am of course referring to the banners and placards used in marches. This article by Oliver Wainwright for the guardian explores how the art of the people resonates more than that of sleek and expensive political campaigns.

This article is not specific to women, but it addresses how our art and our images can be used to empower our fellow human and communicate a message of justice and equality…

www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/mar/28/posters-protest-artworks-hope-to-nope-pink-pussyhat

 

In today’s art auctions, the ‘male gaze’ is going out of fashion // Short Read

Is the problematic male gaze finally becoming unpopular in the art market?

www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/art-auctions-male-gaze-national-gallery-artemisia-gentileschi-me-too-a8469716.html

 

This art project shows men what it’s like to be harassed on the street // Short Read

www.indy100.com/article/art-project-shows-men-what-its-like-to-be-harassed-on-the-street-8284051

A classic role reversal – art that puts men in the position of women who are cat called and harassed on the street. It’s not a complement

 

To Watch:

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict // Film

Saw this in university with my fellow artist (then fellow art student) Sinead Whelan and it honestly changed the flames artist I wanted to become. If you want to know about a fucking cool art bitch, Peggy Guggenheim might be the OG

www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/peggy-guggenheim-art-addict-film-review-an-unlikely-sexual-allure-an-amateur-collector-and-gallerist-a6768336.html

 

To See:

Dial Down The Feminism // Meme

Memes are wonderful beautiful things. We are big fans. Rosie might use a Curation Corner to argue that they are fragments of a larger post-modernist movement within a digital framework, but until that day, there is this: You may have seen the ‘dial down the feminism’ meme, and here is a small piece on its origin. Feminism is too problematic? Hmmm, maybe it is you that is too problematic.

www.indy100.com/article/dial-down-the-feminism-artwork-viral-alex-bertulis-fernandes-modern-photo-criticism-metoo-times-up-8204126

 

Indian women wear cow masks to show they are less safe than cattle // In pictures

Indian women wearing cow masks on the street to address the fact that they are more at risk than sacred cattle. Using powerful religious iconography to prove their point

www.indy100.com/article/cow-masks-india-women-less-safe-sexual-assault-rape-murder-8375596

 

This artist put Donald Trump quotes on sexist 1950s advertising posters // In pictures

This artist puts Donald Trump Quotes on 1950’s posters, highlighting just how ridiculous and outdated his opinion on women really is (as if we didn’t know already! But still very entertaining)

www.indy100.com/article/donald-trump-misogynistic-vintage-posters-art-artist-satire-7643631

 

Celebrating the female gaze: women photographing women // In pictures

A series of photographs of women by women. A dynamic, diverse and thought provoking collection of images that is worth a look!

www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2017/jun/28/female-gaze-women-in-pictures

 

‘Girl on Girl’: Photographer Rose Willoughby explores the female gaze in delicate but deliberate portraits // Artist

www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/girl-on-girl-photographer-explores-the-female-gaze-in-delicate-but-deliberate-portraits-a7423111.html

( Artist: rosemaisiewilloughby.com)

 

To Hear:

Front Row: ‘Women and Sexism in the Arts’ 

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b099v302

 

‘She Who Dares: Feminist Artists’

Elif Shafak a Turkish author and feminist activist celebrates female artists and female creativity

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csvs4q

 

Social Media:

www.indy100.com/article/this-artist-is-turning-all-the-sexist-comments-she-receives-on-instagram-into-art–WkqEwbP5_b

This artist is turning all the sexist comments she receives on Instagram into art.

Instagram Accounts:

https://www.instagram.com/aminder_d/?hl=en

WOMAN WORLD by Aminder Dhaliwal // an ongoing comic about a future world in which women are the only people left on the planet, and the amazing relationships and scenarios therein.

https://www.instagram.com/girlgaze/?hl=en

Girlgaze // a platform to see works and art by women about women. They post great Instagram Stories about some amazing things women are doing and a weekly ‘Not Fake News’ story further exploring some major world events of that week.

Some further thoughts: Tales of Valiant Queens, an Insight into Chila Kumari Singh Burman’s Latest Exhibition

A couple of weeks ago, Alice and I went along to the MIMA in Middlesbrough after receiving an invite to come and check out their new exhibitions. Alice and Rosie had been along before and did a podcast on their initial visit, but this was before their new exhibitions were there.

The three new exhibitions being shown this time were Making, A Life by Peter Hodgson, Living Beyond Limits and Tales of Valiant Queens by Chila Kumari Singh Burman. They were all amazing exhibitions and we spoke about them all in our most recent podcast episode. However, in this blog post I’ll be talking solely about Burman’s exhibition.

While we were there, there were talks by the artists on their exhibitions. We listened to Chila speak for over an hour and a half in what was meant to be a half hour talk, and I only wish she spoke for longer. She told us of how she grew up in a working-class Punjabi family in Liverpool in the 1970s and how the things she grew up with and experienced have influenced her art from then till now.

In the room, her work dominated the walls and took over the senses, printwork in vibrant colours, a video playing with loud music and amazing visuals, and who could forget the beautifully decorated tuk-tuk at the top of the room? Her printworks have been the main focus of her work over the years and each of them tell a different story and showcase different themes.

Some of them are collages that look innocent at first, but upon further inspection they contain some sexual imagery. As Burman explained in her talk, this was her way of expressing her female sexuality in a culture which didn’t allow it. Other prints of hers are much more obvious, including her body print in sugar which was shown in the seminal black feminist exhibition The Thin Black Line (1985). Burman uses her work to fight against stereotypes of Asian femininity and as part of the movement for women to take back control of their own bodies.

Her work also tackles issues of politics and race, with printwork which showcases her feminist and anarchist ideals. Symbols of immigration policies and systematic racism in Britain are highlighted in her works, including a print which shows Margaret Thatcher standing across a barbed-wire Europe and a British passport. It represents issues of colonialism and empire and it  shows the struggle of people coming from Asian countries into Britain and the hardships they faced from the Government.

Her work is incredibly inspirational and frankly very fun to experience in person. Every piece tells a story and I truly believe there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this exhibition. I look forward to seeing more of Burman’s works and after this visit, I’m confident that I’ll be coming back to the MIMA for more amazing works.

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our most recent episode of Hey Art, What’s Good to hear about more of the exhibitions at the MIMA.

-Amy Smith