Killer afternoon, killer fiction, killer cocktails and a killer on the loose

Gateshead sure is a hive of activity and thriving at the moment; there are some amazing events coming up and I know you can’t make time for them all; but if you go to one thing this March – go to Killer Women at Gateshead Central Library on 12th March at 1pm.

This afternoon event is a must for all fans of crime fiction; killer crime fiction, killer cocktails and a killer on the loose! The killer afternoon focuses around ‘Killer Women’ a group of leading London based crime writers; Erin Kelly, Louise Millar, MJ McGrath and Kate Rhodes as they bring the world of crime fiction to life (and death!).

killer w

The topical discussion during Killer Women poses the question – “why do women love to read about grisly murders? “ Women are the largest demographic of crime readers; what is it about a good thriller that draws us in? I am an avid crime fiction reader myself and I know all too well how starting a new book can suddenly turn into hours lost and frantic devouring of the story. For me, it was Harlan Coben, that started off my addiction to the crime genre and I’ve read every single book and I love Myron Bolitar’s adventures; even if they are a tad ridiculous and far-fetched sometimes.

Ok so I will admit it – I love crime fiction; it’s not the violence or the murders especially that I like reading, although surely that must be part of it; it’s about the unfolding of a story that I honestly have no idea how it’s going to end. I love a good debate too – so I can’t wait to hear the author’s take on my crime reading addiction.

The afternoon will then go onto bringing crime fiction alive with a ‘Whodunnit’; we want you to bring out your inner Miss Marple and play detective as the Killer Women perform an exclusive murder mystery, complete with alibis, forensics and red herrings for you to solve. It’s going to be a difficult case to crack; but you’ll love trying!


Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple

Did I mention there are cocktails too? Of course – your crime solving mind needs a little tasty lubrication to get those cogs turning. We have got a special cocktail for the afternoon, for you to enjoy whilst racking your brains over the Killer Women crime and general knowledge quiz. Crime fiction fans this is your moment to shine; who will be crowned the winner?

If all of the above hasn’t quite persuaded you to come – then how about a little information about the authors at the event!?! There is nothing more brilliant than discovering a new crime author or meeting the person behind one of your favourite books; this afternoon is perfect for both. Moreover, each author has a very interesting journey into crime fiction writing and different story writing process; I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Erin Kelly is the fantastic author behind critically acclaimed psychological thrillers The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air and The Ties that Bind. She has even brought her fiction to the small screen; in 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama starring My Anna Buring, Matthew Goode and Ophelia Lovibond. The book was listed as a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011; arguably one of the biggest signs of a brilliant book. Her fifth novel Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the first season of 2013’s mega-hit ITV series, is out now. If it’s anything like the TV show then it’s going to be brilliant.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly writer

Erin’s talents don’t just lie in writing amazing crime fiction; in her successful career as a journalist, she has written for newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Express and The Mirror, and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire and Elle. Her articles cover all sorts of issues including healthy, lifestyle, women’s issues and parenting; so keep an eye out when you’re next flicking through your mags.

Louise Millar is the author of City of Strangers, The Hidden Girl, Accidents Happen and The Playdate; all creepy psychological thrillers and she is busily working on her fifth book. Before turning to fiction, she spent 20 years working in magazines and newspapers, starting as a freelance sub-editor on entertainment titles such as the NME, Kerrang!, Empire and Smash Hits (remember the Smash Hits lyrics pages!?!), before crossing over into women’s magazines and becoming a senior commissioning editor at Marie Claire. In 2006, she left Marie Claire to start a business writing ‘ordinary people’s memoirs – appearing on BBC’s The One Show to promote it – while writing freelance features for Psychologies, the Observer, the Guardian, Stella (the Telegraph), Stylist and Marie Claire, and starting work on The Playdate.

louise millar

Louise Millar – writer

Our third author for the evening, is an Essex girl after my own heart; ambitious, wild, loves to travel and decided against a conventional career after a period of soul searching; Melanie McGrath. The Bone Seeker, The Boy in the Snow and White Heat are thrilling chilling crime novels that need to be added to your list of crime friction to read (may be with a light on – just in case!).

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Melanie McGrath, writer

Melanie is a full time writer and her work extends passed crime fiction; she has written several non-fiction books depicting her love of travelling, she has written for TV and radio and she is also a journals. A true write-aholic one might say!

I can’t wait to ask Melanie how she changes her writing style between so many genres and contexts – what a talent!



Our final author for the Killer Women afternoon, is none other than Kate Rhodes; another highly accomplished author who has a pHD in the playwright Tennessee Williams, a qualified English Teacher that has taught both in the UK and USA and a published poet!

Starting to write crime fiction Masterclass

Kate Rhodes, writer

Her love of crime began with her reading Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene and she went on to write crime fiction publishing five books. Her most famous work is The Crossbones Yard, her first novel and the first in the Alice Quentin series.

kate rhods - cross

Kate is a regular at crime and writing festivals and loves talking to audiences; so make sure you ask lots of questions; she’s a pro!

See, I told you they didn’t have the background you’d expect for a crime author! Teacher, fashion writer, doctorate, traveller, Daily Mail columnist and all mums with young children!

What an afternoon Killer Women is going to be so get your tickets now before they sell out and they will!

A Killer afternoon, killer fiction, killer cocktails and a killer on the loose!







Jo Coupe – Sculpture 30 January Artist of the month

Sculpture 30 January artist of the Month was the brilliant, Gateshead based artist Jo Coupe.


Jo Coupe

But before we chat more about Jo, I’m going to let you into a little secret – before I began working on Sculpture 30 and meeting/working with all these artists, I had no idea a secret artistic haven existed called The Work Place Gallery, right here in Gateshead. I’ve lived here all my life and even work in the creative sector and yet, right on my very doorstep, this brilliant place has been overlooked.

This secret gallery is rather exclusive and only open for viewing when exhibitions are on – but it is definitely worth the wait and adding this venue to your culture vulture trial! Sign up to their mailing list for information about forthcoming exhibitions. Also, Work Place is often a Late Shows venue….


Jo Coupe at work at The Work Place Gallery

The Work Place Gallery, Gateshead is home and creative base for Jo Coupe, our January Sculpture 30 artist of the month. Jo creates works with a sculptural sensibility in a wide variety of media, from photography to installation, video and objects.

coupe3 - solid Air

Jo Coupe – Solid Air 2012

Jo was born in 1975, Stoke-on Trent and is a BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate from Newcastle University and an MA Fine Art graduate from Goldsmiths College. She now works from her converted garage, frequently consulting experts in various areas.

She has had many solo exhibitions regionally and nationally, alongside residencies from as far away as Japan and been a bit of group exhibitions impressively in New York and more recently Florida! Jo Coupe’s projects have included a temporary commission for Locus +, a residency in Grizedale Forest and a group show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

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Jo Coupe – Supernature 2011

Jo Coupe’s work revels in the transience of life, seeks out poetry in the ordinary and draws attention to complex cycles of growth and decay. Her eclectic interests, from jewellery to fungi unite, producing fantastic creations, which highlight the process of degeneration.

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Jo Coupe – Ultraviolet 2009

Jo’s involvement with Sculpture 30 involves her running a workshop with a group from the Level 3 Art and Design course at Gateshead College on 22nd February 15. Her knowledge, experience and creative practice is an asset to their learning and development of their practices.

Jo is working with the students on a half-day project, called ‘Growing a sculpture’, where they’ll be using repeating elements to create a piece of work.

For the session, all the students have been given a brief to bring at least 30 (pretty much) identical objects; organic, discarded, gathered or mass-produced things. This project is an opportunity to think about the language of objects; what memories different materials can trigger and how to make them say what you want through building a sculpture using some basic construction materials.

It sounds like a really interesting session and I can’t wait to see the pictorial results.


Jo Coupe – Rarefied (Phalaenopsis lobii) 2008


Jo was most recently involved in Object Relations at BALTIC 39 in Newcastle, Wednesday 3- Sunday 7 February 2016. Object Relations was part of the Figure Three project which offers a platform for artists to test and develop their work in the public domain.

Artists Tanya Axford, Catherine Bertola, Cath Campbell, Jennifer Douglas and Jo Coupe brought together a collection of recent, un-shown or in-progress works to collectively curate and install their show through a process of discussion, observation, shared dialogue and making. This culminated on Sunday 7 February with a closing event; an opportunity to see the final outcome of the exhibition process.

Object Relations in progress

Object Relations (in progress) 2016

Thanks for reading; as always if you’re interested in Sculpture 30 drop me an email at .



Stephen Newby – Sculpture 30 December 15 artist of the month

Stephen Newby Stephen Newby was Sculpture 30 artist of the month in December 2015 and he is a well-known artist and sculpture with many public art pieces and sculpture regionally and nationally. He is best known for his work of “blowing metal” a patented method of literally inflating metal pieces. He developed this technique in November 1995 and patented it in 2001 and he’s been blowing up metal ever since. They developed Blown Metal™ as an alternative to traditional metal forming processes. It is a completely new way of cold forming pre-finished metal with vast potential for multiple applications and new methods of production. You can watch this method here!

Newby is potentially best known for his piece Halo in Trinity Square.

Steve Newby

Designed by local artist, Steve Newby, the work called ‘Halo’ is a stunning gravity-defying spectacle stretching 27 -foot in the form of a loop, which by night is illuminated by colour changing fibre-optic lights.

The sculpture is a fitting link to the Town’s steel heritage and symbol of its post-industrial renewal, as Gateshead celebrates what is believed to be the UK’s biggest mixed-use town centre regeneration project outside London in recent years.


Hailed as the world’s largest structure made from inflated stainless steel, Halo is constructed entirely using the award-winning artist’s own unique method. Stainless steel is shaped by inflating and blowing, creating curves in reflective surfaces, which then appear kinetic and fluid. It is made up of around 330 individual inflated sections, linked together to form a spectacular 27-foot ring of billowing curves.


Artist and sculptor, Steve Newby said: “I am absolutely delighted to see my concept become a reality. It has been some years in planning, engineering and design. Technologically it’s moving the boundaries of this technique and its prominent gravity-defying character will, I hope, really add exhilaration to the overall development.”

The Halo project was commissioned by Trinity Square developers Spenhill in 2008 with a brief to create “a strong, iconic artwork that would integrate into the architecture of Trinity Square right in the heart of the town.” Newby’s idea for ‘Halo’, marking the region’s steel industry past with the circular ring as a ‘symbol of regeneration’, was picked from six potential proposals and the piece of public art was officially installed on 13th February.

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Newby added: “It was really important to me that the construction took place here in Gateshead – it already feels like it is being born here and belongs here. This entire project is down to the work of skilled Gateshead craftsmen and it has set new standards in this particular field of engineering, which is a testament to the wonders we can do in this area.”

He is also responsible for several other widely recognisable pieces in the UK.

stephen cubes

Cubes, Metrocentre, Gateshead  UK – Stephen Newby

Stephen garden sphere

Garden Sphere, Gosforth UK – Stephen Newby

stephen watersculptures, Bardsea, England

Water Sculptures, Bardsea UK, Stephen Newby

Those of you that ventured to Enchanted Parks in December 2015 may remember The Queen of Hearts piece; which certainly was a show stopper.


The Queen of Hearts – Stephen Newby

You can watch the piece Queen of Hearts in all its glory HERE!

He also had a fantastic piece at Enchanted Parks in 2012 called Blue Yonder.

stephen - blue yonder

Blue Yonder – Stephen Newby

And another equally as visually brilliant at Lumiere in 2013, called Infinity.

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Infinity – Stephen Newby

In addition, Stephen is Internationally known and engages with a variety of projects and private commissions all over the world.

stephen - balloons Paris France

Balloons, Paris, France – Stephen Newby

He has most recently been working on a piece for the Amsterdam Light Festival and because we are lucky, we can have a sneaky peaky below!

Stephen - Amsterdam light festival

Gosh….I find his pieces very special and we are very lucky, to have so much of his work in Gateshead! If you like Stephen’s work why not visit his Creative Business’s site Full Blown and get in touch! You’ll also find more examples of his work and a few interviews with Stephen about particular pieces.



What on earth is Sculpture 30 all about?

This week I caught up with Jennifer Douglas; local artist and Gateshead Culture Team member, to find out what Sculpture 30 festival is all about. I often talk about Sculpture 30 in my posts and it is a big feature in this season’s Gateshead Live, but what on earth is it all about!? Jen has been working for the past 8months devising the Sculpture 30 programme, securing the funding from The Arts Council and facilitating the outreach community aspects of the project. So who better to interview about the initiative so we can all find out a little more about it?

Hi Jen, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?


I work within Arts Development & Public Art to develop of creative projects – I help devise projects, fundraise, and support the delivery of a wide range of creative activities working with professional artists to engage and enthuse other about the arts.


Jen Douglas

Tell me a bit about Sculpture 30 festival?


Sculpture 30 Festival is a programme of activities inspired by and celebrating the 30th anniversary of Gateshead’s Family Sculpture Day and the start of the boroughs Public Art Programme in the 1980s. The festival was launched at Gateshead Family Sculpture Day in Saltwell Park on 27 September 2015 and will continue through to this years Family Sculpture Day in September. The programme includes public events, participatory workshops, school projects, art walks, exhibitions and commissions. The year-long programme is structured around a series of ‘Artists of the Month’ showcasing professional artists whose practice focuses on sculpture.

Sculpture 30 logo

What is the festival setting out to achieve? What’s its purpose?


The project aims to

  • promote the talents of artists based in the region who employ a range of sculptural techniques.
  • encourage and increase arts participation for individuals, communities and groups.
  • increase awareness of existing Public Art and sculpture that sited in the various areas of the borough by devising a diverse programme of walks and activities.
  • encourage pupils and schools to explore the Public Art in their locality and investigate the environment and context in which this has been created.
  • encourage new and existing visitors to the Gateshead Family Sculpture Day (2016) by offering a range of sculpture activities and events to explore prior to the event

Who is Sculpture 30 festival for?  


  1. In addition to the programme devised around the ‘Artist of the Month’ we will offer one-off workshops and family drop in activities to appeal to a wide audience and cater for different levels of ability. We will work with schools (special, primary and secondary) offering practical workshops relating to sculpture to encourage young people to explore the Public Art and Sculpture in their locality and consider the environmental and historical contexts for which it was made.
  2. Sculpture 30 Festival is for people of all ages. With such a range of artists involved in the project (who each employ a differing sculptural practice) there is something on offer for everyone. We aim to work with the public, families, adults, community groups and live at home groups through a variety of public sign up and drop in workshops and events. We will also work with library users and existing groups to develop interest from the previous library based project, Creative Makings.

What can attendees, of a Sculpture 30 related event expect?


Each workshop, walk or performance will offer a different type of experience. Should you join one of the forthcoming Public Art Walks you will have the opportunity to learn more about some of the sculptures located in the borough, find out how it was commissioned and how work is made for the Public domain. The walks are led by Public Art Curator Anna Pepperall who has vast experience of commissioning Public Art who offers fascinating insight about the many projects. During April, Sculptor Jo Hillier will be leading mini bus tours to visit some of the sculptures he has made and has located in the North East and the opportunity to have a look in his studio – which is always a treat. In a Nutshell will offer something completely different for attendees – a family friendly performance for younger children this will offer a magical storytelling experience that is sure to be captivating – I can’t wait to see it! Visual Artist Tanya Axford who created the set for the performance is also leading a Theatre Set Design workshop so this will be an opportunity to get hands-on and make a set of your own. If you want to try out stone carving for the first time then join Russ Coleman in May when he will be leading some beginners workshops in letter carving in stone. Or, if you want to meet and chat to an Artist then come along to The Gallery at Gateshead Central Library on Saturday 19 March 10am -12.30pm and meet Artist Ed Carter for an introduction to the work Scale exhibited in the Gallery and find out more about his interests in architecture, gender and scale in this informal open event.


Faith by Joseph Hillier

What Sculpture 30 event are you most excited about?


What excites me is the variety of ways in which Artists incorporate ‘Sculpture’ into their work and therefore the range of activities that we can showcase and create opportunities for others to learn about and have a go at. I think it is really exciting that we have a sculptural sound piece being presented, a magical theatrical performance, the opportunity to have a go at stone carving and have a look in an artist’s studio.


In a Nutshell

Sculpture 30 is funded and supported by The Arts Council; for those who don’t know who/what is the Arts Council?


Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. They invest money from government and the National Lottery in arts and culture across England. They support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.

‘We believe that art and culture make life better, helps to build diverse communities and improves our quality of life. Great art and culture can inspire our education system, boost our economy and give our nation international standing’

Why do they support projects such as Sculpture 30?


We were successfully in gaining funding for Sculpture 30 from the Grants for the Arts programme – Grants for the arts is the Arts Council’s open access funding programme, and is designed to support a wide variety of arts-related activities. The Sculpture 30 Festival is an exciting and diverse project which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Gateshead’s Family Sculpture Day and the start of the boroughs Public Art Programme in the 1980s, engages and promotes the skills and expertise of professional artists in the region and has a varied and unique programme of participatory workshops.


Sculpture Day 2015

Why is sculpture important in Gateshead?


Gateshead Council first became involved with art in the environment in the early 1980s. By 1986 a Public Art Programme had been established, which has since gained national and international recognition, receiving a succession of prestigious awards. During the programmes history Gateshead Council has commissioned over 80 works of art ranging from artist-designed railings to one of the most well-known public artworks in Britain, the ‘Angel of The North’, by Antony Gormley.


The Angel by Antony Gormley

Public art has become an integral part of the development and regeneration of Gateshead, encouraging investment and creating a strong identity and a sense of pride throughout the region. Each artwork has been individually designed for its specific site, and most incorporate references to the local history and culture of Gateshead.

The Sculpture 30 Festival celebrates the many varied works of Public Art and sculpture located in Gateshead and highlights the work of a selection of artists from the region whose practice, in the broadest sense, incorporates ‘sculpture’.


Cone by Andy Goldsworthy

What is your favourite piece of sculpture in Gateshead and why?


Once Upon a Time by Richard Deacon is a favourite work of mine, I love that the title of the work sets a scene for a story to unfold yet the somewhat awkwardness of the work located on the surviving abutment of the demolished Redheugh Bridge.  More recently I was ‘wowed’ by Stephen Newby’s work for the 2015 Enchanted Parks – an incredible heart shaped glitter ball which threw a magical quality of light across the Rose Garden in Saltwell Park – it was stunning!


Once Upon a Time by  Richard Deacon

Well thank you Jen – it’s great to know in a little more in depth about Sculpture 30. Our new edition of Gateshead Live has just gone out and it is full to the brim with Sculpture 30 activities, so you can pick it up in Gateshead Libraries, cultural venues across Newcastle and Gateshead or drop me an email and I can send you a digital copy.