If you’re into art, I thoroughly recommend taking a short break in the north-east of England to peruse some of its amazing galleries. Here, you can not only take a stroll around more traditional galleries, but also explore innovative spaces that actually give you a chance to meet the artists, see them at work or even take part in workshops.
Below, you’ll find what I think are five of the most unmissable art attractions in the north-east.
1) BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Where: Gateshead Quays, Gateshead
I thought I’d start with one of the most exciting options, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. What I love about this place is that rather than having a permanent collection like most art galleries, it instead has a regularly changing calendar of exhibitions that spans a wide range of contemporary visual art.
For instance, from this month until the beginning of June, you can browse works by David Jablonowski and Marcin Maciejowski. Admission is free, and the gallery also regularly hosts events. And, excitingly, it’s the largest gallery of its kind in the world!
By the way, I’d also recommend the Newcastle Gateshead area as a good place to base yourself for your trip. Alongside this gallery, this area is home to several others, while it’s also got a great selection of fine restaurants, sophisticated bars and even charming green spaces. The NewcastleGateshead website is a good place to get ideas for where to stay.
2) The Biscuit Factory
Where: Shieldfield, Newcastle
This is the place to come if you fancy buying some art during your trip. This vibrant exhibition space showcases a wide variety of work, typically selling pieces from £20 to £10,000 – so there’s scope for all kinds of art lovers to find something they adore here.
In fact, there’s a great range of pieces to peruse, including jewellery, ceramics, paintings and prints. Plus, you’ll also come across a nice little cafe that’s the perfect place to sit and chat about all the amazing things you’ve seen over a steaming cup of coffee.
3) The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
My next top art attraction is the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, which is housed in the upper floor of the City Library and Arts Centre in Sunderland. It’s a relatively small space, but an exciting one, giving you the chance to view work from both established and upcoming artists.
One of the things I think is particularly fantastic about this place is that the exhibition changes every two months, so if you regularly go on short breaks in the north-east, you can see something new each time you come here. At the moment, you can view the largest exhibition of work by Simon Martin (which includes digital animation and video) in the UK today.
4) Mushroom Works
If you want to head to a gallery that offers a really eclectic mix of things to see and do, Mushroom Works is definitely the place for you. This gallery comprises a number of exhibition spaces each dedicated to an individual artist, providing them with a place to both work and display; so, when you come here, you have the chance to meet the artists themselves!
What’s more, there are also regular demonstrations and workshops, which means it’s easy to get involved if you like dabbling in art yourself.
5) Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima)
Where: Centre Square in Middlesbrough
One of the finest galleries in the north-east, mima is a must-visit for any avid art lover. It showcases fine and applied art dating from 1900 all the way up to the present, with its permanent collection being rotated on a quarterly basis. So, rather than all its works being on display at once, mima exhibits a different selection every three months.
Fine art, ceramics and contemporary jewellery are just some of the things you can see here. There is also a charming roof terrace, garden, cafe and shop that are all worth exploring.