Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

Install shot of exhibiton Crab Walk
baby changing facilities icon Guided tours icon Library icon Visual disability facilities icon Wheelchair access icon

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.
Man looking at artifacts in a museum archive

Crab Walk

  • 30 October 2015 — 20 February 2016 *on now

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
A drawing of 'Jimmy the Nail'

Eric Bainbridge: Potholes

  • 30 January — 2 April 2016 *on now

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) present a solo exhibition of drawings by Eric Bainbridge. The show brings together a selection of Bainbridge's works on paper from 1981 to the present day. The exhibition will include preliminary sketches for potential sculptures, revealing the artist's studio processes. The drawings, on gridded and lined paper as well as office stationary, illuminate many aspects of Bainbridge's sculptural work, giving shape to his provisional ideas. Seen collectively, the drawings provide an insight into an artist tentatively working through things.

Evidenced throughout Bainbridge's drawings are attempts to both engage and unsettle the sometimes macho and puritanical aspects of Modernist sculpture. By embracing the irregular, the absurd, and the cute as aesthetic strategies, the artist reinvigorates historical sculptural tropes with a wry humour. In characters such as 'Jimmy the Nail', a motif that Bainbridge has worked with since 1984, the artist conflates the formal tautology of his materials (the profile of a large nail) with a vernacular reference (the title invokes the famous Geordie singer and actor Jimmy Nail). The character pops up recursively throughout Bainbridge's drawings, and has become a form of emblem for the artist's practice. The character, like much of Bainbridge's work takes the form of a metaphorical pothole, disrupting the binaries between abstraction and anecdote, experimental formalism with a more biographical tone.

Bainbridge has exhibited internationally since the early Eighties and his work has been included in many significant in exhibitions across Europe, America and Asia. 'Potholes' precedes the opening of 'Jonathan Baldock, Nicholas Pope & Maria Zahle', on the 17th March in the NGCA main gallery. Both exhibitions explore current sculptural practice in the UK by producing an intergenerational dialogue between a group of artists with shared formal and conceptual approaches. 'Potholes' has been co-curated by Mike Collier and George Vasey and is the last event in 'drawing?' a six-month programme of exhibitions, events and activities in the North East of England. 'drawing?' celebrates the role of drawing in art, culture and the everyday. From art to architecture, product design to engineering, 'drawing?' demonstrates how important drawing is as an art form and as key part of many areas of life. The NGCA and 'drawing?' would like to acknowledge the generous financial assistance of Arts Council England and Sunderland City Council.

Preview of the exhibition: Friday 29th January, 6:00-8:00pm.

Eric Bainbridge (B. 1955, Consett, County Durham, UK) graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1981). He is based in Sunderland, Hartlepool and London. Recent solo exhibitions include 'Collages' at The New Art Gallery Walsall, West Midlands and Steel Sculptures at Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (both 2012). Recent group exhibitions include 'Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977 - 1986' at Longside Gallery Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK (2015), 'MD3 Fragility and Monumentality' at Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Bangkok, TH (2014). Bainbridge's work is held in major public collections including Stedelijk Museum, Tate, Leeds City Art Gallery, Arts Council England amongst others. Bainbridge is represented by Workplace Gallery, UK.

Suitable for

  • Any age
A bold coloured poster style featuring the names of the artists featured, 'Baldock, Pope, Zahle'

Baldock, Pope, Zahle

  • 19 March — 18 June 2016

'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.

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

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.