Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

Install shot of exhibiton Crab Walk
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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.
Image to accompany exhibition 'Mackem Geordie Magjick'

Sophie Lisa Beresford: Mackem, Geordie Magick

  • 11 June — 3 September 2016 *on now

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.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Lead image for John Lawrence Exhibition

John Lawrence: Sickly Revelations*

  • 2 July — 24 September 2016 *on now

John Lawrence presents Sickly Revelations* in Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art’s Gallery 2 space. The exhibition tours from Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown in Wales and Project Number, London, where it was presented earlier this year.

Encompassing film, objects, printing and publishing, Lawrence’s practice focuses on our mediated experiences of the contemporary world. Sickly Revelations* articulates how we communicate ideas through the production of cultural objects with a particular focus on movies, gaming and online platforms.

Central to Sickly Revelations* is a film in three parts including a soundtrack by musician Mark Good. Respectively titled, The Observer, The Receiver and The Transmitter, the piece incorporates the banal observations of an unseen narrator, focusing on his home cinema and audio/visual equipment that can be seen strewn across his floor.

Lawrence aims to question our engagement with, or detachment from, the ‘real world’ and our shifting position within an increasingly networked, technologically infiltrated system. Alongside the film, a series of posters will be installed throughout the Arts Centre and Sunderland City Centre incorporating enigmatic phrases. Beginning with the words 'Some people...' they appear to list both the symptoms of some self-diagnosable contemporary condition at the same time as referring to the banality found in everyday life.

Unique editions of these posters will be for sale for £50 from the gallery during the exhibition.

Sickly Revelations* will also be accompanied by a new publication bringing together writing featuring contributions from Dr Cadence Kinsey, John Bloomfield, Rachel Wilson, Niki Russell and the artist.

Parallel to his practice John Lawrence also runs After/Hours/Drop/Box - a commissioning platform at the intersection of music, video and live performance, Or maybe it’s the same for everyone — a print publication for artists’ short fiction and experimental writing and Oh - a publishing imprint with artist Mat Jenner.

John Lawrence (B. 1981) graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2010. Selected recent and upcoming exhibitions and projects include The Happy Hypocrite #ACCUMULATOR_PLUS (Book Works), Work/Leisure Residency (in association with Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool), X 308: SPACE, SITE AND THE SCREEN (Big Screen Southend in association with Focal Point Gallery), Dry Riser (Solo show, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham), Super Woofer (Matt's Gallery), Sunscreen (New Art Exchange, Nottingham), Spectrum: Survey of Artists’ Moving Image (Breese Little, London), Residency in a Record Store (with Pangaea Sculptors' Centre and Flashback Records, London), Open School East (Associate Artist, London), The Existence of Flamethrowers in Your Street (126, Galway), Oriel Davies Open Overall Winner (Newtown, Wales), Pre Owned: Looks Good Man (Cell Project Space)

*Life is brittle // REAL




Lead image for Graham Dolphin Exhibition

Graham Dolphin

  • 2 July — 22 October 2016 *on now

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) present a major survey of works by Graham Dolphin. Encompassing drawing, sculpture, sound and video the exhibition will include works drawn from private collections alongside new pieces created specifically for the NGCA. Over the last 15 years Dolphin has developed an extensive body of work exploring issues of fandom and idolatry, often with a meticulous and highly crafted approach to making. A graffiti-strewn door, lyrics carved into a vinyl record, a heavily worn bench carved with messages to a recently departed rock star, Dolphin offers sacred sites for a secular age.

While Dolphin’s sculptures often have the look of something found, they are laboriously constructed using materials such as plaster, tip-ex, biro, felt-tips and graphite pencil. The artist harnesses readily available and cheap materials found in hobby stores and office stationary cupboards. Dolphin elides the materials of the workplace and the home, focusing our attention on issues of labour and time. In new works such as ‘660 Hits’ (2016) Dolphin smashes up an electric guitar, filming the process and then painstakingly re-assembling it.

The gesture recalls Jimi Hendrix smashing his guitar on stage in the late Sixties. The seemingly impromptu act of public catharsis was, in fact, the suggestion of Hendrix’s manager. This iconic act of rebellion was a carefully choreographed piece of PR. The smashed guitar is a motif within the history of rock music and one can look towards Kurt Cobain’s ironic rehabilitation of the act in the Nineties as an attempt to amplify the uneasiness between authenticity and artifice. By smashing and then repairing his guitar, Dolphin rewinds the choreographed moment(s) of destruction(s), with the ameliorative gesture of repair.

More recently, Dolphin has started to invert these forms of idolatry by asking amateur artists found online to draw portraits of him from a brief description. Situated throughout the exhibition, these drawings are at points surreal, affectionate and comical. The work operates as a type of anthropology, perhaps revealing more about the authors of the work than the represented subject. In a similar gesture, Dolphin has invited the musician Jad Fair to compose a song about him based on a brief description which acts as a soundtrack to the exhibition.

Running through all of Dolphin’s work of the last 15 years is an interest in how we construct our own identities through the identification of others. While cultural activity is often communal and social; listening to music, just like making art, often involves deeply personal acts of withdrawal. Situated somewhere between a hobby and work, making art in the studio requires a particular type of semi-private labour.

The exhibition at NGCA coincides with further presentations of new work by Dolphin at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle and National Glass Centre, Sunderland and will be supplemented with a series of new essays written on the artist as well as an extensive public programme of events.

Graham Dolphin (B 1972) is based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Recent solo exhibitions include Stockholm Music & Art Festival, RIP Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, View, David Risley Gallery Copenhagen. Recent group exhibitions include The Curves of the Needle, BALTIC 39, The Secret Self, NEST, Are You Alright? Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto. He is represented by David Risley, Copenhagen and Seventeen, London.

Graham Dolphin: 161 Feet (Lesser Free Trade Hall 1976)

The Gallery Tyneside Cinema

Preview: 26 July (5.30pm – 7.30pm)

Exhibition: 27 July - 7 September 2016




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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