Though Newcastle is often overlooked in favour of London and Manchester, this creative northern city has lots to offer to contemporary art lovers. Ever since the 2002 opening of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and the 1998 unveiling of Antony Gormley’s The Angel of the North sculpture, the Tyne and Wear region has become known for its thriving art scene.
Newcastle is home to both large-scale and public galleries, as well as smaller independent ones. There’s also a vibrant public art scene, with local artists, art students, and established international talent who all contribute to the buzz. Here’s our guide to some of the best spots to see contemporary art in and around Newcastle. Uber can help you get to some of these must-see venues:
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
A vast space in Gateshead on the south bank of the River Tyne, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is housed in a former 1950s flour mill. The centre opened in 2002, and since then it’s shown hundreds of cutting-edge works made by artists from across the world. Featuring over 2,600 square metres of space spread across six floors, BALTIC is the largest institution dedicated to contemporary art in the United Kingdom. In addition to a regular programme of temporary exhibitions, there’s a flexible performance space, studios, a cinema and lecture space, a shop, a library, and a rooftop restaurant.
The Biscuit Factory
Located in the heart of Newcastle’s Cultural Quarter, The Biscuit Factory is housed in a former Victorian warehouse. The trendy interior spaces feature exposed brick, beams, and other original architectural features. This innovative space was established to host art, craft, and design exhibitions under one roof, with shows that feature painting, printmaking, and sculpture, as well as jewellery and furniture design. An associated foundation was established to provide a cultural hub for the community to promote young artists and commission local makers to produce public art.
This relatively new space opened in 2012 above Bar Loco, a music venue in the centre of Newcastle. System Gallery aims to promote emerging talent and to provide a space to show work by recent art graduates. The gallery functions as a nonprofit organisation run by a team of dedicated volunteers. Many of the volunteers are young artists themselves, gaining valuable experience of running and curating shows at a working gallery. There’s also a programme of live performance and music events.
This sleek space in Newcastle city centre started life as an umbrella organisation working on arts events across the city. Vane moved on to curate shows for artists, then finally opened as a permanent gallery in 2005. The gallery also represents a number of local and international artists, and works on projects in collaboration with other art institutions. The exhibition spaces are bright and airy, and the work on show encompasses different genres and styles like painting, sculpture, audio-visual work, and photography.
Where to See Public Art in Newcastle
The Tyne and Wear region has a rich history of commissioning and supporting public art. Works can be seen throughout Newcastle city and the surrounding area, and is found in both open spaces and civic buildings with pieces harking back to Victorian times. There’s a huge array of works to see, ranging from traditional sculptures that portray the history of the area, to avant-garde sound installations as well as contemporary pieces.