We have several booming cultural hubs offering a unique insight into England’s artistic identity. From Gateshead’s Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art to the ‘living’ Beamish Museum, these creative institutions have transformed the North East’s cultural landscape. In fact, the Arts Council's Taking Part survey has shown that engagement with visual art in the north east is among the highest in the country. Perhaps this goes some of the way to explaining why our region has some of the best galleries in the UK!
Let's go to...
MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art | Middlesbrough
MIMA opened in 2007 as a contemporary art haven for the North East. Showing contemporary work alongside 20th-century art, MIMA also holds many temporary art exhibitions by internationally acclaimed artists.
National Glass Centre | Sunderland
Sunderland’s seaside location and natural reserves of coal and limestone have made the art of glassmaking one of the area’s oldest and richest industries. The National Glass Centre is part of the University of Sunderland and offers exhibitions of world-renowned artists as well as informative demonstrations and presentations.
The Bowes Museum | Barnard Castle
Designed by Jules Pellechet from France and John Edward Watson of Newcastle, The Bowes Museum is a grand and imposing building nestled on the edge of County Durham. Built in the style of a French chateau, and the first in England to be built in metric measurements, the museum was created by John and Joséphine Bowes in the 19th century to introduce international art to the area. Holding a mesmerising collection of works, the museum stands today as the realisation of John and Joséphine’s dream.
Hailed as Newcastle’s answer to London’s Shoreditch (but for half the price!). One of the most exciting cultural hubs in the region has to be Newcastle's Ouseburn Valley. Over the last twenty years the Ouseburn Valley has undergone a dramatic transformation from post-industrial wasteland to Newcastle’s foremost cultural and creative quarter.
Now thriving social and cultural venues including artists' studios, the Seven Stories National Centre for Children's Books and the one-of-a-kind Star and Shadow cinema, exist harmoniously alongside reminders of the area’s industrial heritage, such as the Glasshouse Bridge (built in 1878), the old flax chimney outside the Cluny and the recently refurbished Ouseburn Railway viaduct.
Us northerners are incredibly proud of where we live. We are renowned for our strong and distinctive identity and our rich, deep cultural heritage. However, something that is also unarguably strong about our identity is our dialect. Here are a few must know phrases for foreigners when encountering a friendly Geordie!
Canny = good or nice or pretty – a Geordie compliment or expression of approval.
Workyticket = being mischievous or ‘pushing one’s luck'.
A right bobby dazzler = a phrase used to describe someone who thinks the world of themselves; could be because of their clothes, good looks or class status.
Out of fettle = in a foul mood or feeling ill/out of sorts.
Howay man! = generic proclamation of exhortation or encouragement, can be both positive and negative.
Gateshead's got it all
No tour of our region's cultural hotspots would not be complete without a nod to Normen Foster's iconic Sage music centre in Gateshead. Situated on the south bank of the River Tyne, this landmark live music venue brings the world's finest artists, musicians and bands to the banks of the River Tyne in an architecturally stunning building rivalling anything of its kind on the world.
Right next door is the region's most famous contemporary art gallery - BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art - the UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution. Since opening in 2002, BALTIC has presented over 190 exhibitions of work by 388 artists from 53 countries and welcomed more than 6 million visitors.