Archives for the month of: May, 2018

I’ve always loved writing arts reviews. I enjoy anaylsing films, books, art and music. I don’t care if I love, loathe or am indifferent to the work. Just let me reflect and write…in 600 words or less!

I wrote my first reviews aged 15 in letters to music-obsessed pen pals then for various Smiths fanzines. My first job was writing gig reviews for Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle and after university I worked for music magazines in London.

Fast forward to 2014 and I’m back on Tyneside and hear about North East Reviews. It was set up by the North East Artist Development Network to increase the amount of critical writing around new performance work in the region.

The NEAD Network’s venue partners are Alnwick Playhouse, Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle, Arts Centre Washington, ARC Stockton, Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Caedmon Hall, Gateshead, Dance City, Newcastle, Gala Durham, Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre, Live Theatre, Newcastle, Northern Stage, Newcastle, Saltburn Arts Theatre, The Firestation, Sunderland, The Witham, Barnard Castle.

I’m one of 10 freelance reviewers and over the past four years I’ve reviewed dance, theatre and spoken word performances. Earlier this year I sucked the marrow out of  a review writing masterclass with The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner.  At the beginning of May  I reviewed Rowan McCabe’s latest show. Check it out here.

I’m looking forward to reviewing another performance next week. Say no more until the review’s posted online here



Two hundred years ago this month John Keats wrote Ode on a Grecian Urn. The final lines are familiar to many, even if they don’t know the author. They run:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”- that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

These words pop into my head whenever I look upon Bulgarian photographer Rossena Petcova’s work. I met Rossena when she responded to my call for volunteers to help at 2016’s Newcastle Photography Festival. I was impressed by her photos and by her professionalism. She took photos of my family and I and made us feel at ease. She captured the essence of our relationships with her camera.

Rossena and I  kept in touch when she returned to Sofia in December 2016. I encouraged her to exhibit her work in England and as a result her first solo exhibition takes place this July on Tyneside. It’s called Feeling-at-home Places  and is  divided into two parts. The first one includes portraits of people living in the North East England and the second one includes autobiographical self-portraits and landscapes.

I adore Rossena’s photos. I find them magical and moving. I’ve named the photos of her embedded in her surroundings “Selfless Selfies.” What do you think? 

I’ve been running a fundraising campaign to bring Rossena and her work over from Sofia for the exhibition. We’re a trifling £40 away from our modest target. Can you help us reach it? Click here to find out more.


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