The Late Shows are here again in Newcastle and Gateshead! A smorgasbord of open museums, arts venues, activities and events take place on this weekend in May every year. On Friday, it was a lovely evening, and we had fun at the Ouseburn, the up and coming arts and cultural area in Byker, in the East end of Newcastle. The Ouseburn nestles right underneath the stone arches of the Tyne and Wear Metro bridge, a stones’ throw from the river Tyne. Our first stop was Ouseburn city farm which is a favourite of mine, lovely gardens growing all kinds of produce – lots of animals in evidence – with the possibility of handling some of the smaller ones. This activity is always a draw, and I got to cuddle a ferret called Humphrey who had been thrown out of a car on a motorway. I have to say he was very sweet an didn’t seem to hold a grudge. The spotty pigs as usual were taking things easy -it can be hard to impress a pig.
Next we popped into the Lime street studios, arts and craft studios which are situated in a huge old whiskey warehouse, to which I am also a regular visitor. It’s always a hive of creative activity and this time we were treated to a couple of beautiful melodic piano pieces from Steve Luck, a pianist and composer who was performing the ‘black piano.’ It turned out that the ‘black piano,’ meant playing the piano with the lights out. There was still a bit of light pollution from everyone’s late Shows glow sticks though, even if you did try and hide it down your jumper.
Next was Jim Edwards artist studio, a really popular and talented local painter. His paintings of the North East with their colourful surreal styling, have a touch of Van Gogh about them. My friend and I were both so taken with his starry skies over Bamburgh piece, that we bought the same card for each other’s birthdays so we could both have a copy. Next we popped in to the new community cinema on Warwick street – the Star and Shadow a sterling entirely community effort to turn the old SCS showrooms into a new local cinema venue with a cafe and a bar. There was a jolly performance by the Chilli Road steel band and the bar was open, but there’s still a bit of a building site air about it! Can’t wait to go and see a movie showing there soon!
Next was the Biscuit Factory – always a delightful venue for a drift about – and its smaller companion venue the Holy Biscuit, where folk were involved in food related printing activity!
Back out on Saturday I encountered the Time Bandits, a bunch of costumed actors at Gateshead Library, bringing a bit of a Gothic Horror theme to the Late Shows. I was alarmed by the approach of a very tall man wearing a Frankenstein mask and a Newcastle United football shirt, which I guess was the desired reaction. Dr Frankenstein and his good lady wife were also part of the welcoming committee! Old hammer horror films were being screened inside too.
The Shipley Art gallery in Gateshead is another lovely venue, and there were some ongoing activities celebrating the 20th birthday of the Angel of the North this year. Grayson Perry’s new touring tapestries about every woman Julie Cope were on display. These works of art are our twentieth century Bayeaux tapestry equivalent, documenting a snapshot of our social history here in the UK. Colourful, witty and political all at the same time, these works are definitely worth a look.
Also on display was a proggy mat wedding dress which I was quite taken with, made using the old North East mat making technique. I can’t understand why Meghan Markle didn’t consider it for her nuptials to Prince Harry! If you missed the Late Shows this year, don’t worry they’ll be back again in 2019!