Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art presents changing exhibitions of new work by emerging and established artists from the UK and abroad, bringing key new works of art of our time to new audiences. The gallery runs a programme of talks, tours, education activities, workshops and artists residencies, providing a range of different opportunities for people to engage with the visual arts in an imaginative and inspiring way.
Monday / Tuesday / Thursday / Friday 9.30 - 5.00
Wednesday late opening 9.30 - 7.00
Saturday 10.00 - 4.00
Baldock, Pope, Zahle
- 19 March — 18 June 2016 *on now
'Baldock Pope Zahle' presents a new sculptural installation by Jonathan Baldock, and newly commissioned work by Nicholas Pope and Maria Zahle in Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art's spacious and newly opened up main gallery. The exhibition brings together artists of different generations who each explore an inquisitive relationship to materials and making. The show has been conceived as a conversation around shared formal and thematic approaches and, while the work is diverse, each artist makes sculpture that is resolutely unmonumental. In using materials such as glass, textiles and ceramics — Baldock, Pope and Zahle translate their own circumstances and lived experiences into exuberant and highly emotive work.
Whether it is through a process of stitching, drawing or glass blowing; the body and its myriad of imperfections are mirrored in the wonky, the awkward and asymmetrical. While each artist has often worked on a larger scale, their respective work has remained tied to the intimacy of the handmade. Within the exhibition Jonathan Baldock will present a carpeted installation including domestically scaled figurative sculptures. The artist's recent work has focused on a highly stylised articulation of the human body, combining Modernist and folkloric motifs. The artist's cast of enigmatic sculptures and constructed objects are like characters from an imagined theatrical production. With their distended anthropomorphism and their frequent use of bright colours and soft materials, Baldock's sculptures are luxuriant and sensual, yet these sensibilities remain tempered by qualities that resist easy assimilation.
Nicholas Pope, working with master glass maker James Maskrey, has made a new series of 14 glass chalices inspired by the Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins. Made over a six month period at the National Glass Centre in 2015, this commission is the first time Pope has worked with glass. Working from the artist's original drawings, the glass chalices translate mark making into glass blowing, manifesting a complex relationship between artist and maker. Maskrey, a glass maker with over 25 years experience, noted that the commission was one of his most technically demanding projects to date. With the drawings displayed alongside the chalices, audiences are offered a unique opportunity to see this translation in proximity. To accompany the exhibition, Pope's 'Yahweh and the Seraphim' (1995) will be presented in the UK for the first time at Sunderland Minster. Last displayed at the Stedelijk Museum in Holland, the sculpture articulates Pope's theological interests, leading on from the artist's recent installation of 'Apostles Speaking in Tongues' at Salisbury Cathedral in 2014.
Maria Zahle will be creating a work that will traverse the 30 metre expanse of the main gallery. Using rip-stop nylon, the sculpture will zig-zag from floor to ceiling across the exhibition cutting the space in two. By responding to the architecture of the gallery, with its expansive floor space and low ceiling, the artist's work frames the both the building and the spectator's movement through the exhibition. Zahle's signature use of rip-stop nylon, a textile used for making kites and sails, amplifies the material's inherent lightness and strength. Zahle, much like Baldock and Pope, brings a delicacy to her chosen materials. Zahle will also show two sculptures made in sandcast bronze, and in both scale and stature the work will be reminiscent of the human figure.
The exhibition will be supplemented with new writing, events, talks and workshops across the NGCA and Sunderland Minster engaging the public in the themes of the exhibition. Nicholas Pope's glass chalices will be touring to Chapter in Cardiff, opening on the 8th July and will be accompanied by further commissions in an exhibition curated by Hannah Firth. 'Baldock Pope Zahle' has been initiated by NGCA curator George Vasey and is generously supported by Sunderland City Council, The National Glass Centre, Chapter, C'Art, Arts Council England, and Grosserer L.F. Foghts Fond.
Preview of the exhibition: Friday 18 March, 6:00 - 8:00pm, 2016.
About the artists:
Jonathan Baldock (B. 1980, United Kingdom) Baldock graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art 2005. In 2013 he was awarded an Abbey Fellowship at the British School in Rome and was granted an ACME Firestation Residency in 2010. Recent solo exhibitions include 'The Soft Machine' at Chapter, Cardiff (2014) and 'A Strange cross between a Butcher's Shop and a Nightclub' at Wysing Art Centre, Cambridge (2013). He has an upcoming solo exhibition at Nicelle Beauchene, New York in 2016. Recent group shows and two-person exhibitions include 'Only the Lonely/Suels les solitaires' at Le Galerie Centre D'art Contemporain, Paris and 'The Varieties - Dance First, Think Later' at Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston (both 2015) and 'Warm Bodies', (two person show with Olga Balema) Kunstvereniging Diepenheim (NL) (2014). Baldock is represented by Vitrine gallery, London and Nicelle Beauchene, New York.
Nicholas Pope (B. 1949, Australia) Pope graduated from Bath Academy of Art in 1973. He has represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and participated in 'British Art Now, An American Perspective' at Guggenheim Museum, touring across America (both 1980). In 1996 he showed 'Apostles Speaking in Tongues' at Tate Britain, recently re-exhibiting the sculpture at Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury (2014). In 2013, he held a solo exhibition at New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park, Salisbury. Also in 2013 Ridinghouse published an extensive monograph on the artist. Pope was included in 'United Enemies: The Problem of Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2011). Pope's work is included in many public collections including Arts Council Collection, Kroller Muller Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Tate, Wakefield Art Gallery and Walker Art Gallery amongst others.
Maria Zahle (B. 1979, Denmark) Zahle graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include 'My Favourite Phone Number', Arcade, London and 'Politics' at Tenderbooks, London (both 2015) and 'Dogs & Sails', New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester (2014) - developed during the artist residency granted by the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award. Recent group exhibitions include '#4', 6GINS, curated by James Worley, Liverpool (2015) and '1:1/10' (in dialogue with Philippe van Snick), Tatjana Pieters Gallery, Ghent, Belgium (2015). She has an upcoming solo exhibition at CentroCentro, Madrid (2016) and is finishing a permanent commission at the newly built Institute of Energy Technology at Ålborg University, Denmark. She is currently online artist-in-residence at AkermanDaly. Zahle is a member of the band Squares & Triangles. Zahle is represented by Arcade, London.
- Any age
Nick Evans & Lorna Macintyre: Ur Phenomenon
- 15 April — 25 June 2016 *on now
For ‘Ur Phenomenon,' Nick Evans and Lorna Macintyre present a joint exhibition of new photographs and sculptures. The project has been initiated in response to the work of Nicholas Pope who will simultaneously be exhibiting a series of new sculptures and drawings in the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art’s (NGCA) other gallery as part of ‘Baldock Pope Zahle’. The starting point for ‘Ur Phenomenon’ was Nick Evans’ formative experience of seeing Pope’s sculpture ‘The Apostles Speaking in Tongues Lit by Their Own Lamps’ (1993-96) at Tate gallery in the late Nineties as a student. Recalling the encounter recently, Evans invited Macintyre, in conversation with Pope, to take a series of photographs of the sculptor’s house and studio in Herefordshire.
The silver gelatin prints are displayed alongside Evans’ sculptures and studio ephemera, creating an environment that amplifies the shared sensibilities between each artist, filtered through the implied, if absent, work of Pope. By invoking the studio, the installation blurs the distinction between the privacy of production and the publicness of display. While Pope’s work inspired a conversation between Macintyre and Evans, her documentation of his work remains oblique. She presents a portrait of an artist through an idiosyncratic landscape of objects as much as through their work. The lyrical photographs gesture towards his influence, forming a type of formal and conceptual reverberation across generations. The title of the exhibition is lifted from Hannah Arendt’s introductory text to Walter Benjamin’s ‘Illuminations’. Arendt’s quote below, served as inspiration, articulating the affinities between Macintyre and Evans’ respective practices.
“ … derived directly from the only world view that had any decisive influence on him, from Geothe's conviction of the factual existence of an Urphänomen, an archetypal phenomenon, a concrete thing to be discovered in the world of appearances in which 'significance' and appearance, word and thing, idea and experience would coincide” (1968)
Nick Evans (Born in 1976, Mufulira, Zambia) Recent solo exhibitions include McManus Art Gallery and Museum, Dundee (part of Generation, 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland) (2014), Tramway, Glasgow (2013), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2011). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Plaster Casts and Copies’, Hepworth Wakefield, ‘Devils in The Making’, Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow (both 2015) and ‘New Order, British Art Now’, Saatchi Gallery, London (2014).
Lorna Macintyre (Born in 1977, Glasgow, Scotland) Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Material Language Or All Truth Waits In All Things’, Mary Mary, Glasgow, ‘Solid Objects’, Glasgow Project Room (both 2015) and ‘Four Paper Fugues’, Mount Stuart, Bute (part of Generation, 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland) (2014). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Surface Tension’, Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow, ‘Representing Space’, CCA Andratx, Mallorca (2015), ‘Polarity and Resonance’, Sammlung Lenikus, Vienna and ‘Dirt and Not Copper’, 221a, Vancouver.
Both artists are represented by Mary Mary, Glasgow. The exhibition has been kindly supported by Elephant Trust, Arts Council England and Sunderland City Council.
- Family friendly
Michele Allen: Public & Private
- 19 April — 11 May 2016 *on now
In this pair of exhibitions Michele Allen explores the unwritten histories of the North-East of England, and the processes by which we imagine the third person plural: how the collective category of ‘we’ is formed, or deformed.
Her first exhibition, ‘Public and Private’ explores the roles of education in our lives, and our society. This body of work has been created during a four-month residency at Durham Castle, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the home of Durham University’s ‘University College’. The work responds to the Castle’s history as a site of government, its current use as a home to students of University College, and its relationship to the wider region: Sunderland is a historical province of County Durham. University College is known as the ‘founding’ college of Durham University: in 1832 it marked the beginning of the first University in the North of England, half a millennium after Oxford and Cambridge were established. Allen’s residency allowed her to research the history of the Castle as a site of political and military power and more recently a place of learning; the running of the University as an institution and a set of historic buildings; and the collections of books and artworks owned by both.
Allen’s work invites us to ask several questions. Who gains from the structures of education we have inherited? What exactly is it that they gain? Is knowledge a form of power or a form of personal empowerment? Or is it one of the few ways that we have to make our way into and through the wider worlds that lie beyond our own?
Her video work ‘Aesop’s Feast’ juxtaposes footage of the Durham Miners’ Gala in Durham city centre, attended annually by hundreds of thousands, with a soundtrack recorded in Durham Castle that features students’ musical performances. ‘Aesop’s Feast’ draws our attention to both what Allen calls “the role of education as a means of emancipation in the Trade Union Movement”, and to the role that education has in stretching our capabilities as human beings, including that of our imaginative empathy with the wider world.
The exhibition also includes photographs from the Castle, and of its historic special collections. These include books and artefacts that have been preserved for decades or centuries. We also see the rites and rituals of those living or working in a venerable institution: a form of ‘everyday life’.
- Family friendly
Michele Allen: For the Elevation of Man
- 14 May — 18 June 2016
Allen’s second exhibition ‘For The Elevation of Man’, examines the competing ideas of what roles we might hope the State to perform, and what our civic responsibilities are to one another. She asks what, if anything, binds us together: and if there is still, or should be such a thing as ‘society’.
Allen’s poetic, hypnotically detailed large-format photographs bear witness to a quiet revolution in how we are governed. She observes the bewildering panoply of places, spaces and artefacts accrued by the State over decades – and observes which of them are set to be reordered or redistributed. Allen’s observations are poignant and plangent, rather than polemical: but her work is about what is at stake in modern politics. What, if anything, has a value that can be measured through things other than cost alone?
And what could or should be expected of those who govern us? Should the State be a paternalistic overseer, ‘nudging’ us into bettering ourselves? Can we believe ‘less is more’ in government as in art? And hope for what The Daily Telegraph first asked for back in 1956: “the smack of firm government”?
The exhibition’s title is taken from the inscription on a Victorian drinking Fountain, donated by public subscription to celebrate a group of philanthropists who secured an area of parkland in Elswick for the public. The inscription on the fountain reads:
“They saved this park for public use, for health, beauty and happiness, to elevate man and honour God.”
Such heroic, munificent ideals seemingly appear as ideological relics. The soaring optimism of such rhetoric almost draws to mind Soviet-era statues, now toppled, and displaced by the victory of consumers’ power. In a world where individuals now pay more taxation than major corporations, are such ‘gifts’ as parks, swimming pools, libraries, and museums mere anachronisms?
- Any age
Sophie Lisa Beresford: Mackem, Geordie Magick
- 11 June — 3 September 2016
Sophie Lisa Beresford’s work intertwines pantheism, feminism, mysticism, and localism as part of a highly personal vision of how to we can make the world a better place through the power of art. She espouses the idea of liberation, trying to expand our consciousness and our social conscience.
Her pair of new exhibitions reveal a brand newly commissioned series of seven monumental photographs. Each is a tableau showing her in a shamanistic persona in a location connected to her place of birth, and spiritual rebirth. The series spans places that are beautiful and brutal, with each treated equally as a space of potential transformation and becoming. Each exhibition is also framed by cloudscape murals that lull us into a sense of serenity – at least momentarily.
Beresford’s aims are those of the great 1960s and 1970s performance artists: to emancipate our minds, bodies and our social body alike. She suggests that ideals are, now, the most uncomfortable and
unfashionable ideas of all. She also suggests that the true story of modern art from William Blake to Beuys is of artists working both to expand the horizons of both our consciousness – and of our social conscience. Modern art is and must be immune to insincerity, though not irony. In her new works, it is as though she is channeling Blake and Beuys along with Carole Schneemann, and Valie EXPORT to reignite the true flame of modern art. Beresford proposes that the 1960s ethos of liberation – a quaint, forgotten, almost laughable notion – has finally found its time. A time, that is, when art is owned by and made for billionaires; and when socio-economic and gender inequalities are mistaken for eternal realities instead of mind-forged manacles.
Beresford has exhibited internationally including at VeSch, Vienna; Abrons Art Center, New York; NADA Art Fair Miami; Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, and the Laing Art Gallery where she is also represented in the permanent collection. She was awarded ‘Artist Newcomer of the Year’ in The Journal Culture Awards 2010.
The exhibitions are part of the three-year project ‘Happiness is a New Idea’ that celebrates the fact that every visit to a library or gallery can plant the seed of a new idea in our minds. Libraries and galleries are, arguably, the greatest civic inheritance bequeathed to us by our Victorian predecessors. Both are free and for everyone – and, now, under immediate threat. Both types of civic space offer the chance to learn about other ideas and beliefs, and are the only spaces in cities that ask nothing of us except our imagination.
- Any age
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
City Library and Arts Centre
Tyne and Wear
Alistair Robinson, Programme Director
Kathryn Brame, Marketing Officer
0191 561 1235
0191 561 5950