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.
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

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.