Episode 30 – Small Town Inertia by J A Mortram

This week the girls have a chat about J A Mortram’s very poignant photography exhibition, Small Town Inertia, currently showing at Side Gallery in Newcastle. The photos explore the everyday lives of Mortram’s friends and neighbours, showing how their lives are severely impacted in this era of austerity cuts and governmental neglect.

Check out J A Mortram’s website here.

Find out some more information about the exhibition here.

Location: Side Gallery

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 – 17:00

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

Episode 29 – hu (Hungarian Travelling Exhibition)

Last week the girls went along to Abject Gallery to check out ‘hu’, a travelling exhibition of Hungarian artists practising in the UK. There was such a fantastic range of artworks across different mediums, and this exhibition ultimately seeks to explore if and how one’s environment affects one’s artistic practice.

Follow the exhibition on their Instagram.

Exhibition runs from 11th January until 9th February.

More information about the exhibition.

Location: Abject Gallery

Opening Times: Wednesday – Saturday, 11:00 – 17:00

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

Episode 28 – Watercolour at War at the Laing Art Gallery

In this week’s episode the girls head back along to the Laing Art Gallery, one of Newcastle’s many gems, and had a look at ‘Watercolour at War’. This is an exhibition showing a variety of war and inter-war period watercolour paintings and sketches, and the variety is just astounding!

Exhibition runs until 1st November 2019

More information: here

Location: Laing Art Gallery

Opening times: Tues-Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun 14:00-17:00

Episode 27 – The Age of Love by Heather Phillipson

As part II of our BALTIC double-bill, this week the girls talk about something else they went to go see at BALTIC Late 2018: Heather Phillipson’s surreal and entrancing ‘The Age of Love’. This wonderfully alien and multi-faceted exhibition responds directly to the BALTIC’s Level 4, and is available to visit until the end of March.

Exhibition runs: 19th October 2018 – 24th March 2019

More information: here

Location: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Opening Times: Mon-Sun, 10:00 – 18:00

Episode 26: Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective

Last month the girls went along to BALTIC Late 2018 and had a look at the current exhibitions. In this episode they have a chat about the very ‘meaty’ Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective, which displays over 60 years of the artists fantastic and varied work.

Exhibition on until 27th January 2019.

More information about the the exhibition here.

Where to find the BALTIC.

Opening times: 10:00-18:00 everyday.

Episode 25 – Beacon Films

A little while ago the girls went over to the Whitley Bay Playhouse to check out the Beacon Films 2018 Premier, a night full of short films and entertainment. It was a fantastic and very inclusive evening, so we thought it deserved talking about.

“Beacon Films C.I.C. is a multi-award winning training and production organisation for filmmakers who have learning difficulties, autism and additional needs, whose work has received over 100 festival screenings across many countries and has been praised by people from across the world of film.”

Click here to find out some more information about Beacon Films.

Episode 24 – Exploding Collage at Hatton Gallery

This week the girls went over to Newcastle University campus to check out Exploding Collage at the Hatton Gallery, an exhibition that explores how avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century expanded the notion of collage into immersive, often ephemeral, formats.

Exhibition on until 12th January.

More information: here

Location: Hatton Gallery

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 – 17:00