Brian Sewell on a sofa with his dogs at home, paintings behind

Who can forget Evening Standard art snob Brian Sewell’s upturned nose at the very idea of an exhibition in Gateshead but not London. That was almost a decade ago and since then the Turner Prize has been held in Gateshead’s Baltic.

I don’t suppose Brian thinks too much about the art scene up here in the North East but I wonder what he’d make of my afternoon and evening. I visited two galleries in central Newcastle hosting new exhibitions and had lots of “oh hello!” experiences when bumping into folk I knew (and sometimes only thought I knew).

It was like an extended party across two venues. It was a Geordie Glastonbury but with art and photography on the two main stages instead of music. And no need for wellies.

Firstly a rushed visit to the Hatton Gallery for Anthony Gormley’s new exhibition opening today, Space Stations. I arrived with less than half an hour to spare before closing time. Apparently it’s an exhibition “of works on paper by Antony Gormley in which the artist seeks to reconcile the body with its habitat and architecture with anatomy, making drawings wherein the body is treated as a space within space.”

gormley

I liked it but not the way I loved the maps and industrial diagrams from Tyne and Wear Museums dotted around the walls. I loved clever mechanical diagrams by a 17 year old Victorian called Harry Noble. What was his story, I wondered.

I will return to spend more time with Gormley (and noble Noble) but sadly not on Tuesday evening when the official launch takes place and (gasp!) Anthony gives a talk for FREE! For more information visit http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/hatton-gallery/whats-on/exhibitions/antony-gormley-space-stations.html

From the Hatton I scampered over to the Laing Art Gallery for the preview night of For Ever Amber. This exhibition opens tomorrow and is the first major account of the AmberSide Collection which has been based on Newcastle’s Quayside for almost 40 years.

The title of the exhibition is taken from an inscription by Henri Cartier-Bresson on a photograph that he donated to the Amber collection.

The Laing was choc a block with “known faces” eager to see the photos and like me, wondering where the free bar was. Turns out it didn’t exist but that didn’t matter. We were all there to support AmberSide. Honest!

It looks like an amazing exhibition but it was so busy all I could do was snatch little peeks of photographs by Graham Smith, Chris Killip, Weegee, August Sander and Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen. I will have to go back when I can get up close to the photos.

It runs until mid September with tie in films to be screened at nearby Tyneside Cinema and a conference in July called Future Presence which will explore documentary practices and possibilities.

for ever amber 001

For more information visit http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/laing-art-gallery/whats-on/exhibitions/for-ever-amber.html

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