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.
We are also working to create a new collection of contemporary art, in partnership with National Glass Centre, with the support of University of Sunderland, Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council and other partners.
Daily: 10.00 - 17.00
The National Glass Centre is fully wheelchair accessible and wheelchairs are available to borrow at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Toilets are based on the first floor and baby and adult changing facilities are available.
The National Glass Centre Car Park is situated to the front of the building and is FREE to all visitors and accessible from Dame Dorothy Street.
NGCA is working to create a new collection of contemporary art, in partnership with National Glass Centre, with the support of University of Sunderland, Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council and other partners.
In 2019, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art will be 50 years old, being the direct descendent of 'Bookshop Gallery' founded in 1969 and its successor Ceolfrith Arts Centre, later Northern Centre for Contemporary Art. Despite the changes in location and name, the gallery's commitment to innovative, experimental art has been a constant.
During its fifty years it has given UK premieres to artists from Sean Scully to Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen, from Sam Taylor-Wood to Spartacus Chetwynd, and given the first UK shows to Cory Arcangel and Harun Farocki, several years before other galleries gave their achievements due recognition.
It is only in its current incarnation that the gallery has been able to acquire works from artists, in order to tell stories about the history of contemporary art, as well as to create 'news'. The exceptional generosity of artists we have worked with over the period has begun a collection of contemporary art for the city of Sunderland that now includes over a hundred works.
The gallery is also working closely with National Glass Centre to ensure that artists interested in working with glass are able to realise ambitious art in new ways, working with world leading makers based in the University of Sunderland.
Architecture, Design, Fine Art, Photography, Film and Media
Dan Holdsworth: Continuous Topography
- 26 October 2018 — 6 January 2019 *on now
Since 1996, the English artist-photographer Dan Holdsworth has explored the “extreme” territories that characterize humans’ changing relationship to the ‘natural’ world in the Anthropocene. Since 2012, the artist has worked alongside academic geologists to map the exact contours of Alpine glaciers and rock formations, by using drones, lasers, photography, and high-end software ordinarily employed by the military and climate scientists. The result is the series Continuous Topography, consisting of images created from millions of points marked in space, each a millimetre-perfect registration of the precise contours of a rapidly changing landscape. This landscape is the Argientière glacier in the Alps. Indeed between the recording of the landscape, and its presentation as artworks made to be conserved in perpetuity, the landscape has already begun to change beyond recognition.
Continuous Topography creates an image of what Holdsworth calls a “future archaeology”. What we encounter are not only three-dimensional maps of places characterised by extraordinary natural beauty, but historical records: records that document the very shape of the world that we have to lose. The works are entirely new kinds of landscape imagery, which invite us to imaginatively inhabit what initially appears to be an almost entirely abstract and immaterial, indeed spectral virtual space. Encountering these works is to see Europe’s most sublime landscapes – Alpine mountain ranges that artists have worked to picture since the Romantics – in an entirely new way. These are works that have been painstakingly constructed from data that the artist has personally gathered through weeks and months of fieldwork traversing the Alps.
The exhibition reveals the first moving-image works the artist has created, after working for 20 years with large-format analogue cameras. It focuses on a sequence of large-scale digital animations that are both maps and composite photographs. Each is projected at a monumental scale, enveloping us into a new type of space. In each, we travel on a ‘flythrough’ around and even into an Alpine landscape. Each offers a sublime superabundance of visual information: a virtual sublime, we might say, beyond the capacity of the human eye to process. These works offer a kind of hallucinatory realism that the pre-Raphaelites could only dream of, in the campaign to create an art characterised by its truth-to-nature, and a fidelity to recording the organic world in its every detail. What is startlingly new here is the degree of precision that the process of ‘photogrammetry’ offers. The astonishing quantity of detail that we are confronted with allows the artists to transform raw ‘data’ into a new type of poetry. Each pixel has the colour of the ‘real’ snow, ice or stone in the landscape, making these works a new, strange type of image.
- Any age
Dan Holdsworth: Spatial Objects
- 18 January — 17 March 2019
Holdsworth’s Spatial Objects are strange, alluring portraits of the ‘objects‘ that every one of us encounters every day, and which are the building blocks of vision in a digital age, but which ordinarily lie beyond our perception. The titular ‘objects’ are single “data points” – pixels marking a unique point in space, as GPS co-ordinates. The starting point for these works has been geological mapping data from the US Geological Survey of Crater Lake, a protected National Park in the western United States. When transformed into a 3D model, the data allows us to see every single point in the landscape in virtual space. Holdsworth has created photographs of individual pixels, blown-up to a scale that they become possessed of a monumental physicality. In each work, we encounter the edges of an individual plane of one pixel: each image shows only “a fragment of a fragment” of the landscape, in the artist’s own words. Here, we experience the space of nature just as it is mediated through our omnipresent screens – as pure RGB colour and light.
The title Spatial Objects derives from a term in computer programming to designate objects that exist, as Holdsworth notes, “in simultaneous symmetry within the virtual and the real”. These works are paradoxical objects, making virtual space powerfully present, and representing ‘real’, natural spaces through almost completely abstract imagery. Pixels, Holdsworth notes, are the basic building blocks of all digital communication. Here, we see the digital equivalent of William Blake‘s aspiration to ‘see the world in a grain of sand‘: we are dwarved by microcosmic objects that usually escape our recognition as objects. Holdsworth’s Spatial Objects seem almost to present us with the world seen from a pixel’s own perspective. Where Continuous Topography orchestrates tens of millions of pixels harvested as unique data points to make an alien, ghostly world, Spatial Objects make the apparently ‘virtual’ space that individual pixels occupy feel startlingly tangible and animate. Both series offer new, twenty-first forms of sublimity in which the geological and the virtual are intertwined, and made vivid.
The project is accompanied by both a 122pp catalogue entitled Spatial Objects, along with a major 280pp monograph surveying Holdsworth’s career published by Hatje Cantz, entitled Mapping the Limits of Space.
Dan Holdsworth began his career as one of the youngest artists ever to be acquired for Tate’s permanent collection, aged 25, and has subsequently had works acquired by the Pompidou Centre, Museum of Modern Art Vienna, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Arts Council Collection amongst many others. Since the 1990s Holdsworth has investigated how we perceive landscapes and urban space in a digital age, when virtual space and ‘real’ space have become enmeshed. His earliest works often dwell upon the virtualisation of the ‘real’, and the conditions in which man-made light dominates the landscape. Since around 2010, Holdsworth’s work has become radically transformed whilst continuing to investigate his longstanding ideas around the nature of landscape, and the nature of photography alike. In 2018 alone Holdsworth has been the subject of three new books: Mapping the Limits of Space, a mid-career survey; Vallée de Joux, a book-length study of an Alpine Swiss valley that is the result of a seven-year collaboration with Audemars Piguet; and Acceleration Structures, based on a major new commission from Rolls-Royce. A fourth new book, Spatial Objects, is also released in the UK this year.
Preview: 17.01.2019 6-8pm
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art at National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland SR6 0GL
T 0191 515 5555 E email@example.com W www.northerngalleryforcontemporaryart.co.uk
Opening times: daily 10:00 – 17:00
Following a capital redevelopment project in 2017-18, the new Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art reopened in March 2018 at National Glass Centre, part of the University of Sunderland. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, having been one of the very first contemporary art galleries in Britain. It has provided major international figures with their first UK exhibitions, including Harun Farocki and Cory Arcangel; and fourteen Turner Prize nominees with public exhibitions from Sean Scully in 1972 to Sam Taylor-Wood in 1996. The gallery is developing a new permanent collection of contemporary art for the city of Sunderland, working alongside its partner venue National Glass Centre.
- Any age
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
National Glass Centre, Liberty Way
Kelly Richardson: Pillars of Dawn
- 29 March — 26 May 2019
Artist Kelly Richardson has spent three years imagining a world at one remove from our own, working with digital imaging software to create a vision of the near future. In each of her works, we encounter millions of glistening crystals that have somehow encrusted every square inch of the planet’s surface. The artist pushes the limits of what our eyes can register, the mind can conceive of, and the most high-tech computers can calculate. Each crystal has been ‘sculpted’ in three dimensions, so that in each work, there is one crystal for every extant species on Earth. ‘Pillars of Dawn’ presents us with what seems to be the dusk of humanity ̶ the sixth great extinction ̶ where only the hardiest of trees seem to survive. These are akin to photographs outside of time: from either the Earth’s earliest days or humanity’s final hour, acting as documents of nuclear conflagration or environmental depredation.
The artist reveals the body of work across three exhibitions at opposite ends of the country. The third is presented in what The Guardian calls “the best surviving example of English baroque architecture”: Sir John Vanbrugh’s Seaton Delaval Hall. Partially destroyed by fire in 1822, and acquired by the National Trust in 2009, the central block is roofed but left bare as a half-ruin. In the breathtaking Saloon, some fifty feet wide and sixty feet high, Richardson presents a vision of what our collective future may yet hold.
- Any age
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
at National Glass Centre
Tyne and Wear