Charlton Walk – Gateshead; Public Art hidden gem!

The urban jungle is full of hidden gems….I’ve told you before, I’m a big fan of street art and I was lucky enough, to be shown to a gem a couple of weeks ago.

Park Life is a lush art work funded by Big Local Gateshead, created by local children from Gateshead Schools – Corpus Christi, Kelvin Grove and St Aidan’s who worked with artist and Culture Vulture favourite Tommy Anderson and writer Paul Summers.

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The large scale art work sited at Charlton Walk Park in Teams, Gateshead. The pieces explore the people, places, stories, history of the area (Teams and Bensham) alongside exploring the regional identity and aspirations of the school children themselves. The pieces pull together a rich tapestry into the rich heritage of Gateshead and insights into the new generation.

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The project is infused with Tommy Anderson’s style and practice which really brings it to life. Tommy is an experienced arts facilitator and graphic designer who manages small and large scale community arts projects (like this one) and progressive participatory and educational arts programmes inspired by his practice.

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He is passionate about creative opportunities for all and that really came forward, when he recently spoke at my Culture Vulture networking evening in February. Art and engagement with it, is a means of creating dialogue, a forum for self-expression, community sense making, identity ownership, exploratory learning, understanding enhancement and so much more.

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Projects like Charlton Walk, give communities a voice and sense of ownership of their space. Tommy, as a professional artist, plays a critical role in enabling these opportunities and voices to be heard and them empowering such groups to actively make something.

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Community collectivism alongside individualist artistic effort can be a really beautiful thing and it’s absolutely wonderful that artists like Tommy can put their time, resources, skill set and talent into facilitation of the production of these pieces. It takes the old, we are stronger together than alone, to another level.

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“Having lived and worked in Bensham for several years, the Park Life project has been a wonderful opportunity to create a major artwork for the area that has brought people together to celebrate their community.

The duration of the project allowed me to explore a range of art forms with the children, resulting in a rich and detailed interpretation of the area and its people.

Hopefully the project will spark a continued interest in the arts for the children, and a sense of pride in their community.”Tommy Anderson

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In terms of the impact of the project and having the opportunity, to engage with Tommy Anderson and Paul Summers, you only have to read a few quotes from some of the children to realise how important not only projects like this area, but creative learning opportunities for children.

“I am so proud of my art – I didn’t think I could be creative.”

“This is the best thing I’ve done in my entire life – I just love it!”

“It’s so exciting – I want to be an artist”

“Art club is amazing – I look forward to is every week”

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So – now the weather is getting brighter and Spring is coming, you must pencil in somewhere to go and view the Charlton Walk and see the pieces. I absolutely loved it – I love the word choices, the colours, the imagery….. it’s a great piece of community Public Art in Gateshead and deserves wayyyyy more recognition. But I guess if everyone knew about it, it wouldn’t be a hidden gem……

So here are a couple of my favourite pieces from the walk…..

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That’s all for now Culture Vultures.

Outside of the Cultural Comfort Zone and into: The Thought Foundation

What is your New Year’s Resolution? I used to be all about less eating, more exercise, more this and less that – however, I gave up many moons ago as I just never kept them. I’m more about lifestyle changes ongoing than setting impossible unrealistic challenges – plus it’s highly unlikely, I’m ever going to be super model thin or run a marathon so pretending that “could” happen, is both hilarious and pointless.

Right, so my New Year’s Resolution is: “to go outside my comfort zone as much as possible”. I’m all for trying new things, doing things that terrify me, living by my gut instinct and striving for personal development and growth; I intend to do more of that this year but like most, I fall into routines! I go to the same restaurants, same galleries, check out the same cultural programmes, same same same! Now that’s wonderful in a way – I love those places, I’m fiercely loyal and they keep providing me with reasons to come back. But it also means, I’m in a cultural bubble of comfort……there is a whole world outside of that, venues, creative spaces, performances, pop up stuff, events etc, that I’m just missing out on.

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Leanne Pearce – Breastfeed

I’m also aware that so many culture vultures (including me!), focus too much on Central NewcastleGateshead……. In short, my cultural sphere is too small, I need to break out, adventure, seek pastures new, visit new venues, see new exhibitions and performances by companies I haven’t engaged with….. I’m excited to do so!

The first place on my *must* visit list is the new Thought Foundation!  It’s a new Community Interest Company (a CIC) in development in Birtley, Gateshead.

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It is the brainchild of three very proactive and entrepreneurial creatives Leanne Billinghurst, Gareth Billinghurst and Hayley Rodgets (and Leanne and Gareth’s two little girls Josephine and Boadicea). As a collective they are on a mission, a mission the Culture Vulture can really get on board with!

  • Firstly, to keep creative talent up in the North East – yes yes yessss! You don’t need to run off anywhere else, there are oodles of creative opportunities bubbling here!
  • Secondly, to make art accessible and to evidence that Arts and Culture really is for all! Anyone and everyone has it within them to be creative and to enjoy creative engagement.
  • Thirdly, creativity, innovation, business, arts, making, doing etc – they all have things in common and can be used to overcome today and tomorrow’s problems.

We love this agenda and we think we will love Thought Foundation – so what is it? Basically it’s is a new thoughtful arts space and cultural organisation with big creative ambitions; to inspire, promote and support creatives and the local community. They have self-funded and crowd funded the major renovation project, as previously the building was used to house a vehicle repair shop. Visually imagine a transformation from a vehicle inspection pit and petrol pumps into a big white space for creative possibilities.

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Thought Foundation will house MINDFIELD- a transformative gallery, THINK- thoughtful eclectic shop, BRAIN FOOD cafe and kitchen, IMAGINATION STATION – alternative kids play zone and BRAIN SPACE – a workshop room. The space aims to be open, dynamic and thought provoking. Clearly a space for culture vultures, little culture vultures in the making and artists……..I’m interested to see exactly what activity and creatives get involved in the space!

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I first heard about Thought Foundation through social media and finding Leanne Pearce’s (married name Billinghurst) art work. At the time alongside, first testing out the idea for The Thought Foundation she was also working on her current exhibition “Breastfeed” with large scale portraits depicting mothers feeding their offspring. This type of work not only visually interested me, as it is beautiful and evidences great talent in portraiture and painting, but thematically as I’m going through that stage where lots of my friends are having children and each having very individualistic experiences breastfeeding. Leanne’s work celebrates and displays focused and intimate moments as a breastfeeding mother – the bond, the natural beauty, the functionality of the process and showcases different versions of the maternal and female experience.

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An artist pushing forward this positive agenda should almost certainly be on your radar. Within Thought Foundation in 2017, a project called “New Born” will be on going. Leanne has defined this as “a creative response to parenting” and I’m excited to see elements of how “Breastfeed” intertwines into that, alongside new creative additions from other artists, Mums, Dads and carers and potentially her own personal evolving experience as a Mum. Oh gosh – I’m getting excited just typing about it – I love the beginning of project development when anything and everything could be possible!

So Culture Vultures, onto the most important question, how can WE get involved!? Well, they are aiming to open Feb/March of this year with a soft launch – keep an eye on their Facebook page for that and make sure you attend; I love being the first to check out a new cultural gem so I will certainly be there. From then on, people will be able to visit and they are planning on developing a cultural programme housed within – so expect events, projects, exhibitions, workshops etc.

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If you’re a creative and artist and want to get involved, well this is the best time to reach out to Thought Foundation and have your input from the beginning. If you have a particular project or their mission sparks an interest in you, drop them a line/pop in and visit and make it happen!

Their first exhibition is titled “Thoughtful Planet” and is a creative response to environmental issue we currently face. They are currently seeking artist submissions for this immersive, multi-disciplinary exhibition. So if you are an artist/creative that works with Film, Photography, Painting, Sculpture, Installation, Light/sound, Poetry/written word, Spoken word art or Performance then they want to hear from you.

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Submission process is open until 30th January 2017 – so you’ve still get plenty of time to pull together a brilliant brief!

If you’re a maker, artist or creative business, well then there could be a collaborative opportunity here! They are looking to develop a great range of stock in their shop THINK. Supplying to a creative stockist is a great way to get your products out there, a different means of selling and they are passionate about supporting local creatives, so if you have lush creative products, why not send them a message with some examples!

And if you’re like me, always looking for a new venue for an event, conference, to run workshops etc, well as I said before, there is a whole world outside of the NewcastleGateshead central zone of culture so why not, discover it alongside being a part of creating your little piece of it in partnership with Thought Foundation! As Leanne herself told me “the opportunities are endless!”.

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Keen an eye out for their launch Culture Vultures; I’m expecting great things and in Summer 2017, I hope to bring something Culture Vulturish to The Thought Foundation! Keep your eyes peeled!

If you’d like to find out more about The Thought Foundation drop Leanne an email: Leanne@thoughtfoundation.co.uk

Spring is coming….. I promise!

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Rise and Fall-Lulu Quinn (2007)

With Spring on the way…..it’s time to start thinking and getting excited about our outdoor Sculpture 30 activities we’ve got coming up.

Now, I know if you look out of the window, you’re probably thinking “Spring!?!” but I promise you it’s coming; it’s March and the flower buds are starting to pop up and say hello; I’ve got some Daffs in my living room at home.

Well what better way to discover sculpture then actually going to see it, touch it and to learn all about it. These Sculpture 30 outdoor activities give you the opportunity to do just that…..

Gateshead Quays Art Walk on Saturday 2nd April, 1pm – 3.30pm.

Our art walks are one of the highlights of our cultural programme; a chance for you to really get to know public art and sculpture in Gateshead. Pieces you may walk passed every day or hidden gems! This walk focuses on exploring the Public Art works along Gateshead quays, taking in sculpture, contemporary glass and urban design.

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5,000 Bolts—Walter Jack Studio (2011)

This walk is led by Anna Pepperall, Gateshead Council’s Public Art Curator. Anna has been doing Public Art talks and curating Public Art in Gateshead since before The Angel of The North, so we are delighted that for this activity we have her as host.

To book: https://online.gateshead.gov.uk/EventTicketsOnline/pages/eventdetails.aspx?ky=3430

Sculpture Tour with Joseph Hillier on Thursday 14th April, 4pm – 8pm

Join Sculptor Joseph Hillier for a tour of some of his publicly sited sculptures followed by an exclusive visit to his studio. This mini bus tour will visit and explore Faith at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and Primary Care Centre and Joseph’s studio in Blaydon.

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70% H2O – Joseph Hillier (2010)

Joseph Hillier is our Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month for April, so this is an unique opportunity to get to know his pieces and to explore his practice.

To book: https://online.gateshead.gov.uk/EventTicketsOnline/pages/eventdetails.aspx?ky=3437

Sculpture Tour with Joseph Hillier on Saturday 23rd April,l 10am – 4pm

Sculptor Joseph Hillier explores of some of his publicly sited sculptures during this full day tour followed by an exclusive visit to his studio. The mini bus will visit Faith at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Mortal8 at Souter Lighthouse, Generation at Newcastle University and Joseph’s studio in Blaydon.

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Mortal 8 – Joseph Hillier (2014)

Is there a better way to spend a Saturday? This exciting opportunity is for a true culture vulture!

To book: https://online.gateshead.gov.uk/EventTicketsOnline/pages/eventdetails.aspx?ky=3438

Creative Walking & Writing Workshop with Jeremy Warr, Saturday 7th May, 10am – 12.30pm

Join Jeremy Warr, at St Mary’s Heritage Centre, for a writing workshop and walk with a difference. You’ll be using some of the many public artworks on Gateshead Quays and Riverside as inspiration for a series of writing exercises.

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Beacons – David Pearl (2004)

We want you to bring your notebook and pens and learn from an expert, whilst feeling inspired by the wonderful Public Art and culture around you.

During this peaceful afternoon, you’ll be able to reimagine and reframe sculptural pieces with your words and metaphors.

To book: https://online.gateshead.gov.uk/EventTicketsOnline/pages/eventdetails.aspx?ky=3439

Gateshead Urban Art Walk, Saturday 21st May, 1pm-3.30pm

Anna Pepperall, Gateshead Public Arts Curator returns to explore some of the Public Art works in and around Gateshead Town Centre during this interpreted public art. Find out about the new Trinity Development and the fantastic piece “Halo” by Sculpture 30 December Artist of the Month, Steve Newby.

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Halo – Steve Newby (2014)

There are so many hidden gems within the Gateshead Central area, so this walk is an opportunity to learn and reflect on some of these pieces and the process behind their conception, construction and maintenance.

To book: https://online.gateshead.gov.uk/EventTicketsOnline/pages/eventdetails.aspx?ky=3431

Lots of outdoor Sculpture 30 activity coming up; so get booked before these walks sell out. Fingers cross we will get lovely days for them, but as with all things outdoors in the British Summer/Spring, please be prepared and dress for British weather!

If you’d like any information, please contact CBSArtsTeam@Gateshead.gov.uk

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