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
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
– 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
– 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
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
– 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
2 Leazes Park Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
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
– 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
1 Eldon Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
Photograph: Dylan McKee (@djmckee)