The 80-day Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle and Gateshead has announced its programme, with a raft of visual arts exhibitions and commissions taking place at Baltic and in Baltic Square, Gateshead,  Baltic 39 in Newcastle, and The Newbridge Project (Newcastle and Gateshead).

Other exhibitions will take place at Laing Art Gallery, the Great North Museum, Gateshead Quays, and other offsite locations.

Conceived as part of former chancellor George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project, the programme is being paid for with £5m from the government’s Northern Powerhouse fund.

Running from 22 June to 9 September and free to attend, the wide-ranging programme aims to tell the inspiring story of the north of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future.

Get North, NewcastleGateshead Quayside
The Great Exhibition of the North opening event. Viewed from the Quayside, visitors will experience the UK’s largest water sculpture – an 80m-long fountain, reaching the height of the Tyne Bridge, installed with a soundtrack of three commissioned music compositions. A new film about a journey across the north of England will be screened in large-scale, introducing three interconnected trails (Innovation, Arts, Design), taking visitors through 30 further venues and public spaces on both sides of the River Tyne. More events will happen during the opening weekend.
22-24 June 2018.

The Get North Arts Trail, across NewcastleGateshead
A trail to explore the rich arts landscape of Newcastle and Gateshead: Future Everything and Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory bring together technology and creative writing in the form of a poem on display that refreshes every minute, telling the story of the city; Mind the Gap’s Daughter of Fortune combines art and science, exploring real experiences of learning disability and parenthood through exhibitions and performances; and in The New Bridge Project’s Life in a Northern Town, 10 northern artists present unique exhibitions.
22 June – 9 September 2018.

Lubaina Himid, Baltic, Baltic Square, Gateshead
For her solo exhibition on Baltic’s ground floor, Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid will use traditional patterns and motifs of east African Kanga flags, a recurring motif throughout her work. The artist will also present a weekly programme of free public events every Sunday; performances and community happenings and collaborations giving visibility to marginalised creative communities in the North East. Themes in Himid’s exhibition will echo her major outdoor commission situated in Baltic Square, the creation of a shared environment where visitors can rearrange the placement of the Kanga flags.
11 May – 30 September; Baltic Square commission; 22 June – 30 September 2018.

Michael Dean, Baltic, Gateshead
Using his writing as a starting point 2016 Turner Prize nominee Michael Dean gives language material form for this new commission. The exhibition presents moulds and casts of words, incorporating pages from the artist’s personal texts and self-published books. Referring to concrete as a ‘democratic ceramic’, Dean also uses other inexpensive and readily available materials such as MDF, shuttering ply, sand, steel and corrugated metal to make objects and environments to demonstrate and spell out writing.
22 June – 30 September 2018.

Which Way North, Great North Museum
An exhibition of iconic northern objects inspired by Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World. Published in 1668, and known as one of the earliest works of science fiction, the prose features an imaginary world reached via a gateway at the North Pole, revealing a fantastical realm with possibilities of invention, art, travel and science. ‘Which Way North’ opens a similar gateway to explore the heart, soul and imagination of the North, from Helen Sharman’s stories that ‘take you to space’ to the early days of pop art in Newcastle with Richard Hamilton.
22 June – 9 September 2018.

Idea of the North, Baltic, Gateshead
A series of projects spanning Baltic’s Level 4 gallery. Artworks and narratives looking at counter-stories and counter-cultural movements will create divergent lines through recent history to address ideas around community, place and belonging. Pavilions and architectural constructions by Ryder Architecture will join displays by guest curators material driven, to unpick voices within a ‘northern’ identity. Also featured in the exhibition is: ‘Women by Women’, curated by photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, an intimate representation of women and girls in the North East by women photographers; a new film by David Blandy and Larry Achiampong; Matt Stokes‘s Real Arcadia; and Chris Killip‘s The Station.
11 May – 30 September 2018.

We are where we are, Baltic 39, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
The culmination of a three-year initiative by Liverpool Biennial, in partnership with Independent Curators International, New York and Cactus gallery, Liverpool. The exhibition features work by Liverpool Biennial Associate Artists Simeon Barclay, Jacqueline Bebb, Lindsey Bull, Robert Carter & Lauren Velvick, Nina Chua, Matthew Crawle, Frances Disley, Daniel Fogarty, Harry Meadley, and Stephen Sheehan, curated by Baltic and Joe Fletcher Orr of Cactus.
15 June – 21 October 2018.

Glenn Brown, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne
Born in Hexham, Northumberland, Glenn Brown is famed for manipulating images from historic masterpieces, changing their shape, size and colour. Among the artists he references are Fragonard, Dali and the North East’s own John Martin. Brown will premier a series of works created specially for the Exhibition of the North, and will delve into the Laing’s collection to present some of his favourite pieces.
22 June – 30 September 2018.

Phil Collins, Baltic, Gateshead
In 2017 Phil Collins initiated Ceremony, a work for Manchester International Festival which saw a decommissioned statue of Friedrich Engels travel from a Ukrainian village to be permanently installed in Manchester – where Engels lived for 20 years and wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England. The project saw Collins collaborate with local organisations, activists and communities to explore Engels’s legacy in austerity Britain. Part two of Ceremony, a film connecting Manchester to the idea of Communism, is presented at Baltic as a gallery installation.
22 June – 30 September 2018.

Jane & Louise Wilson, location tbc
For their first outdoor public commission, the Wilsons present a video and sculptural installation entitled Suspended Island, which expands on ideas around the political flux of Brexit Britain. The work draws upon what it means to be British and what it means to be northern; being closer to Scotland but still remaining part of England. It uncovers the kinetic relationship, through moving image, between the architecture of Trinity House on Newcastle upon Tyne’s Quayside and the now abandoned coastal fortifications on Governors Island, off the coast of Manhattan. Lyrics from an evangelical song, sourced from a family recording in 1930, describe the guiding lights connected to the Brethren of Trinity House. The song is woven into footage, animation, and voiceover narrative.
22 June – 9 September.

Tim Etchells, Gateshead Quays
Tim Etchells’s site-specific sculptural work With/Against looks out towards the River Tyne from Gateshead Quays. The work uses innovative LED technology to expand upon previous public commissions by the artist that explore the speed, clarity and vividness with which language communicates narrative, image and ideas. The work is made up of a well-used colloquialism alongside an idiom that seems to read in opposition, developing the artist’s practice of language interrogation exploration of the relationship between the work and the viewer.
22 June – 28 August 2018.

Ryan Gander, Baltic Square, Gateshead
Ryan Gander presents his commission To Give Light (Northern Aspirational Charms), comprising large pared-down concrete sculptures depicting objects originally designed to emit or to shine light, each with a historical link to the North. These include one of the first functioning incandescent light bulbs, developed by Joseph Swan (b. 1828, Sunderland) in the late 1800s, and the Geordie lamp, a safety lamp for use in inflammable atmospheres, invented by George Stephenson (b. 1781, Wylam) in 1815. The objects are linked together by a maritime mooring chain, referencing the dark depths of the River Tyne and appearing in the form of an outsized charm bracelet.
22 June – 28 August 2018.

Full details of the Great Exhibition of the North programme can be found here:

1. Great Exhibition of the North opening event. Courtesy: Great Exhibition of the North
2. Michael Dean, ‘Sic Glyphs’, 2016. Photo: Andy Keate
3. Glenn Brown, In the end we all succumb to the pull of the molten core, 2016. Courtesy: Glenn Brown 2016

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