Newcastle and more

My sister is doing a fellowship at the hospital in Newcastle (upon Tyne). Which means I had the best excuse to finally go to the UK again. So I did. ;) Surprisingly, this time I didn’t need any extra bags to bring all my shopping home with me and I didn’t only buy books but even (gasp) clothes.

But since I didn’t only shop but actually saw quite a lot, let me start at the beginning.

[Pic taken from here]

We (me and my parents) arrived Thursday evening but didn’t do much else than drop my parents off at their hotel (The Townhouse Hotel), then have dinner at a really nice pub (The Brandling Arms). Then I headed to my sister’s place and fell asleep (which kicked off a trend: I slept between 9 and 10 hours every night while I was there).

On Friday, while my sis was at work, my parents and I headed into town and into the Laing Art Gallery. They have mostly 18th, 19th century stuff, which is not that much my thing, but they had some wonderful pieces (like several pictures by Charles Napier Hemy that were beautiful in a very kitschy postcardy way). And they also had some more modern things like Barnaby Barford‘s The Big Win, a series of small sculptures that tell the story of a lottery win (and downfall):

Here are some of my other favorites:

(George Clausen – The Stone Pickers)

(William Adolphe Bouguereau – The Penitent)

(Peter Graham – Landscape with Cattle [sorry, couldn’t find a better quality pic and for some reason, he only has a German wikipedia page])

(Lizzie Rowe – Dysphoria)

(John Charlton – The Women)

Though what I loved the most was Stephen Hannock‘s Northern City Renaissance which is actually a drawing of Newcastle:

(What you can’t see there is that picture was covered in almost transparent writing, where Hannock wrote down memories and experiences he had at certain places.)

Anyway, after that we went shopping and wandered the city a little bit (honestly, there’s not that much to do or see in the city center) and then we headed to the Quayside and crossed the Millennium Bridge into Gateshead. From there – because you can never have enough art (if you got enough breaks inbetween) – we went to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

The Baltic is a peculiar museum, but I did like it. They had three exhibitions on when we were there. The first one was experimental shelters or Wagon Stations by Andrea Zittel, including a slideshow of photos and diary entries from her West A-Z projects. I enjoyed both a whole lot.

The second exhibition were three video installations by Elizabeth Price, User Group Disco, Choir and West Hinder. I thought User Group Disco was fun, Choir impressed me a whole lot and West Hinder gave me headache so I had to leave early.

The third exhibition was Bani Abidi‘s photo and video project Section Yellow, where she just showed a mysterious, never-ending visa application process that was a great comment on bureaucracy.

After the museum we headed back to the city center where we got dinner and then watched a small light and fireworks show from the Theatre Royal, celebrating their birthday (actually it was just the test run, but I don’t think the actual thing was really different). It was really nice.

On Saturday, we drove to York, not knowing that they had some kind of International Viking Festival that weekend, meaning not only that there were many dressed up people walking through the city, but that York – which is touristy in the first place  – was even more crowded than I would have thought possible. I was really happy that I had already seen York so that I didn’t really have to feel bad that I hid in a café for the most time. Though we did have a nice little walk through the city and the Museum Gardens, before we went into the York Art Gallery.

In the York Art Gallery, they had a really interesting mix of art styles. There’s currently a huge exhibition of Gordon Baldwin ceramics (not my thing, though certainly interesting), but there really were a lot of pieces I did love.

(Jorma Puranen – Shadows, Reflections and All That Sort of Thing)

(Simon Periton – The Anonymous Rose)

(Susan Stockwell – Colonial Dress)

(Frederick Daniel Hardy – The Volunteers [they actually had small pieces of text next to this picture by several people who imagined what the figures were thinking which was extremely nice])

From the Gallery, we went on the city wall and walked a bit on it. It’s a really nice walk that gives you a very nice impression of the city. When we came down from the wall, we stumbled upon an Art and Craft fair where I found the photos of Nicola Taylor and fell in love for the first time that weekend. If I hadn’t already spent too much money, I would have gone for the big prints. Instead I had to make do with postcards. But seriously, people, look at this:

There’s more on her homepage, which I would just like to buy in its entirety.

And then it was time again to drive back to Newcastle.

On Sunday we went on a trip towards the coast. First we made a short stop in Alnmouth where we took a short walk on the (beautiful) beach. Then we continued our journey to Alnwick where I found heaven in Barter Books: a huge (and when I say huge, I mean it fills an entire old railway station) second hand bookshop. Beautiful for everybody except my wallet.

[pic taken from here]

We also headed to Alnwick Castle where they apparently shoot a whole damn lot of films and also have film tours – but only in summer, because in winter the whole damn castle is closed. So we had a look at it from the outside and then drove on.

We had lunch in Bamburgh, then drove on to Holy Island (or Lindisfarne). The Island is connected to the main land only by a causeway, which disappears when the tide comes in. And this is where I fell in love for the second time that weekend.

This island is so amazingly beautiful, I immediately had visions of myself dropping everything and move there. Despite the fact that there are only about 150 people living there, the next cinema is probably two hours away and you have to be careful to not get swept away by the tide when coming to and leaving the island.

Plus, when I was in the local café, I could connect to “Holy ADSL”. Who wouldn’t want that?

And then it was again time to return to Newcastle.

On Monday, my parents left and I spent the day in the Newcastle city center, first spending too much money on clothes, then having coffee and then I headed to the cinema (Chronicle and The Woman in Black, reviews follow). In the evening I met up with my sister who came from work and we just had a nice evening together.

And on Tuesday morning it was my turn to leave, thus ending my short holiday much too early (my wallet, as usual, disagrees).

I miss it already.

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