Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

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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.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Monday / Tuesday / Thursday / Friday 9.30 - 5.00
Wednesday late opening 9.30 - 7.00
Saturday 10.00 - 4.00

Closed: Sundays

Admission charges


Collection details

Architecture, Design, Fine Art, Photography

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Jeffery Dennis

Jeffrey Dennis - Ringbinder

  • 24 July — 17 October 2015 *on now

Guest curated by Andrew Hunt

The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is pleased to present ‘Ringbinder’, a solo exhibition by Jeffrey Dennis, which will consist of a new series of paintings and sculpture housed in NGCA’s reconfigured main gallery space. Aside from staging a concentrated progression of the artist’s work made between 2011 and 2015, the exhibition will also attempt to reflect on Dennis’ development since his initial profile in Britain was formed during the early 1980s. This was a period that saw a significant international resurgence in painting in parallel with the ‘New Image Painting’ in North America and the ‘Jungen Wilden’ (Young Wild Ones) in Germany, both of which were considered counter-movements to Conceptual Art.

As if referencing a synthesis of this historical polarity, Dennis’ painting The Artist Successfully Levitating in the Studio (2011) pictures a full-length self-portrait in mid-air surrounded by a plethora of psychedelic bubbles. A reversal of the great conceptual artist Bruce Nauman’s Failing to Levitate in My Studio (1966), The Artist Successfully… presents an impossible and affirmative act against (what one might call) certain canonized ‘labourer priests of the negative’, such as Nauman and Samuel Beckett, in whose work failure’s gravity exerts its pull everywhere. In essence, Dennis’ minor comic triumph countervails negative forms of motion through a sense of revelatory wonder and aspiration.

Other subject matter includes graphic Bengali cinema posters, images from a technical handbook of fixtures and fittings retrieved from a skip in the 1970s, as well as films such as Jean Luc Godard’s self-conscious critique of consumerism Two or Three Things I Know About Her; reference points that provide the artist with the tools for constructing enchanted visual spaces in his strange objects. Surrounded by Dennis’ signature painted bubbles – a device originally taken from a scene in Godard’s film in which froth on a cup of coffee dissipates – the artist transforms the micro to the macro; a situation in which we travel from foam in a washing-up bowl to different points in inter-galactic space.

Dennis has recently developed a number of new three-dimensional objects that act as portable multi-faceted stage sets. Studded with vignetted painted imagery, each ‘sculpture’ contains a narrative that springs from popular events taken from television, newspapers and his own photographs. Personal and political histories are exemplified in a work that refers to the area of north London in which the artist lives, through the depiction of a flower-monument at the inconspicuous site of the shooting that sparked the nationwide riots of 2011, as well as drawing reference to Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm riots twenty-six years earlier in 1985.

If during the 1980s and early 1990s, Dennis’ work was included in significant shows in the UK and US, then his subsequent development has been interestingly awkward, typical of painting’s wider expansion since the 1980s through his unusual, divergent and contradictory subject matter. This exhibition, the painter’s largest in the UK for thirty years, will hopefully prove to be significant for the wider discourse currently surrounding painting in the UK and abroad.

Jeffrey Dennis was born in Colchester in 1958 and graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1980. Solo exhibitions include Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1986), Orchard Gallery, Derry (with an essay by the late Stuart Morgan), and Salvatore Ala Gallery, New York (both 1993), Anderson O'Day Gallery, London (1994) and Art Space Gallery, London (2008). His work is held in collections worldwide, including the Arts Council Collection; the British Council Collection; Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris; The New School Art Collection, New York City; Saatchi Collection, London; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Tate, London.

Jeffrey Dennis: Ringbinder is organised by the London-based curator Andrew Hunt. A new publication containing commissioned essays and a full catalogue of the artist’s recent work will be published by NGCA in 2016.

Jeffrey Dennis ‘Ringbinder’ is generously supported by Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council and University of the Arts, London.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Two women using their phones to photograph themselves.

Simon Senn: Fawcett Street

  • 12 September — 14 November 2015 *on now

The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) is pleased to present a new body of work by the Swiss artist Simon Senn. 'Fawcett Street', Senn's first solo exhibition in the UK, is named after the street that the NGCA is situated on. Historically Sunderland's financial centre, Fawcett Street now finds itself commercially marginalised by a nearby shopping mall. Since the Second World War, the decline of the manufacturing industries and the rise of consumerism have put Fawcett Street at the edge of the city - with its grand Victorian and Edwardian department stores and banks under-occupied or unoccupied, the street has been left somewhat overlooked.

For this new project Senn, along with an assistant, walked around Fawcett Street during the day asking people if they wanted to participate in a performance at the NGCA for a small fee. The participants were tasked with interpreting the singular instruction "be sensational", documenting each other's actions with their own camera phones. These photographs were then given to a psychologist who has written a series of reports based on the images. The pictures and texts will be framed and displayed at the NGCA. The project extends Senn's recent interest in behavioural patterns. The artist's films, performances and photography have persistently explored group dynamics and amplified the inherent tensions within particular social settings. From offering cash prizes to conducting interviews with people using appropriated and pejorative media statements, Senn's work has persistently undermined the authorial distance and assumed benevolence of historical documenterism. Senn's work raises complex questions around visibility, representation and political agency. The exhibition will be accompanied by an essay and has been kindly supported by Pro Helvetia and the Switzerland Cultural Fund.

Simon Senn (born in 1986) is based in Geneva. He studied at the HEAD Geneva University of Art & Design, at the London School of Journalism and graduated with an MFA from Goldsmiths College, London in 2013. His works have been exhibited at the ICA London, at the Liverpool Biennial 2014, at the Centro d'Arte Contemporanea del Ticino Bellinzona, Salon Kennedy in Frankfurt, the Videodromo Atelier dell'Arco Amoroso Ancona in Italy, Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel and the Kunstmuseum, Bern. Senn has received numerous grants and prizes, including the Swiss Art Prize, Prix Suisse de la Performance (both 2011) and Kiefer-Hablitzel Preis (2009).

Suitable for

  • Any age
Man looking at artifacts in a museum archive

Crab Walk

  • 30 October 2015 — 20 February 2016

The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) is proud to announce the group show Crab Walk, curated by Ned McConnell and NGCA curator George Vasey. The exhibition travels from KARST in Plymouth, where it was presented earlier this year. While using the original show, Breakin' Up is Hard to Do, as a template, Crab Walk expands on it by introducing two new artists and further commissions as well as a brand new title. Crab Walk is a straight translation of the German phrase Krebsgang and was coined by the German writer Günter Grass to describe the urgent need to "look backwards to be able to move forwards". The exhibition formalises this term through a variety of curatorial approaches that perform a type of institutional archaeology. Documentation of previous exhibitions, archival material and memories of the building from staff and the public will be collated in a free newspaper that will be dispersed throughout the city. By creating a polyphonic history of the space, the show will counter the typical neutrality afforded white cube art galleries, excavating personal, as well as social narratives.

Crab Walk will present new work in a range of media, including sculpture, audio, film and painting that elide historical and contemporary motifs to explore different temporal registers. The starting point for the project came out of a discussion about the current state of Kazimir Malevich's Black Square (1915). The painting's previously pristine surface is now covered in a filigree of tiny cracks; it is literally and metaphorically breaking up. This entropy reveals a tension between the object and the image, between the cosmetic and immanent. Malevich's refusal for figurative and symbolic content was intended as a ground zero for art and - for Modernism in general - the start of a new world order. The painting's current state of decay reveals it to be an object in motion, dramatizing the shifting conditions of cultural production and reception over the last 100 years. The selection of artists and their subsequent presentation resists the traditional idea of a group exhibition. If Black Square was intended as a type of full stop, then Crab Walk proposes it to be more like a comma. The exhibition is part of an expansive and on-going conversation, and will be accompanied by a range of events, talks and readings.

Nicolas Deshayes, Alex Dordoy, Jennifer Douglas, Patrick Hough, Philomene Pirecki, Marie Toseland, Sally Troughton, Rosalind McLachlan & design work by Tom Merrell

The project has been kindly supported by KARST, Sunderland City Council and Arts Council England.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
City Library and Arts Centre
Fawcett Street
Tyne and Wear



Alistair Robinson, Programme Director

Kathryn Brame, Marketing Officer


0191 561 1235


0191 561 5950

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