It’s always fun down at the Ouseburn warehouse on the last weekend in November, when the artists who reside there, open their Lime Street Studios studios to the public. You can wander around the amazing multi layered interior of the old John Dobson designed warehouse which was at one time used for storing supplies of Whisky and be inspired by the astonishing creativity you encounter within.
The Inspiral carpets
You can also eat your own weight in carbohydrates as the welcoming artists offer platters of mince pies, cheesy biscuits and chocolates and some supply mulled wine or even real wine. I find that if I don’t partake of any of it, all is well, but once you’ve popped a few Cadbury’s Roses in and started to snaffle the mince pies then it turns into a full on glutton fest.
Jimmy looks out of his Rear Window
There are workshops as well and you can learn about print making, life drawing, jewellery making and stained glass design or you can just admire the beautiful things and buy them for Christmas presents. I generally buy a few things, get them home and think to myself ‘now who would appreciate this most?’ and guess what? It’s usually me!
Arty raffle tickets
There was an interesting fund raising art raffle featuring covetable letterpress tickets hand-printed by Hole Editions with prizes including an original signed ink drawing by Turner Prize nominated artist George Shaw. Each ticket was a little piece of artwork in itself and if that was pulled out, the artwork featured on it would be yours. The money raised was going towards the restoration of the building which is a huge crazy maze of a place, and as different from the cookie cutter prefab buildings that we get nowadays as chalk is from cheese. This kind of raffle is much better than the tombola at the school fair where you end up with some bath salts or a tin of biscuits that nobody likes – if you’re lucky.
Getting on top of each other..
My favourite artist who has a working studio there remains the inscrutable Julia Roxburgh. I do have a bit of a ceramic obsession as noted by my attendance at the fabulous Potfest every year. She always seems a bit grumpy to me in person for some reason – it could be the ever present fear that people are going to blunder into her delicate creations – but maybe all her joy and fun gets used up in her amazing and wildly original pots. They are bright, colourful and flamboyant.Whimsical, yet functional, I have put things in her pots and bowls but I have never dared to make tea in one of her Alice in Wonderland tea pots. By way of contrasting temperament, one artist who was very jolly indeed (so much so I took a picture of him!) was Jamie Josef Fry – sitting in the window of his studio where he makes his sculptural leanly designed beautiful furniture.
Jamie’s website says that he operates across disciplines, ‘designing products through tobrand experiences. This diversity of scale draws from a pragmatic, systematic and rational dissection of the brief to create functional solutions to the problems we are asked to solve.’ So there you are.
Paper goes back into trees
There were Christmas trees made out of pages from books and sculptured spirals made from prodded rugs. In one room Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s Rear Window was showing on an ancient portable TV. I wasn’t sure if it was art or not but I liked it. I did take a picture of one installation which turned out to the shelves in someone’s studio kitchen. Well it was alright for Tracy Emin and her unmade bed wasn’t it?
Shakespeare hangs out at the end of Stratford Road
After enjoying the art, you can wander back through the next door city farm and enjoy the attentions of the ultra tame goats, pigs and small furry animals. Then take a stroll past one of my favourite artworks in Newcastle which is Shakespeare picked out in coloured bricks on the end of a house in Stratford Road (get it?). It all makes for a lovely Eccentric England day out in our fine Northern City.