Art and beer

Look who’s been knocking at my door!

Neeva at Door

Neeva popped into my garden to say “Hi” and ask if it was OK to take some moss from my garden. I said she could take as much as she wanted, particularly from my pots, as the moss was choking the plants and I hadn’t got around to clearing it.

Neeva with Moss

Apparently, she uses it to line the walls of her home, it keeps it cosy in Winter and cool in Summer. I’m quite curious about her home, but I’m reticent to ask about it as I don’t want her to feel threatened by me knowing its location.

I’ve been out and about this Easter weekend visiting my friend in Newcastle. We visited the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead to see an exhibition by the artist, George Shaw.

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

His art is predominantly paintings of urban landscapes (minus people) using Humbrol enamel paint. Aside from using a very basic paint, he draws our attention to places not normally chosen as a painting subject. These places are very familiar; housing estates like these are all around the UK.

George Shaw painting enlarged on Baltic Mill

George Shaw painting enlarged on Baltic Mill

He also paints waste areas, places where nothing really happens: grass verges, graffitied back doors of public buildings, underpasses. Some of these places really remind me of being a child; as adults we normally walk past these places barely noticing them, but as my friend said, children do not see degradation and decay like adults do, they just see it as an interesting space, different from other spaces. By focusing on these spaces in the paintings, we see them anew as adults, like a child would see them. The paintings are displayed chronologically, and you can see how George Shaw improves his technique with the Humbrol paint, until they nearly resemble oils. I’m not sure if the use of this paint adds anything to the creation of the paintings that could not be achieved by more conventional mediums, but it is intriguing to see it used this way.

Have a look at this revealing video interview with the artist from The Guardian website.

The Baltic also has a fabulous shop

Baltic Graphics

where I would buy so many things if I had the money, although my house would end up full of bright coloured plastic, Moomins and art books! There was a great collection of indie craft books and kits I had not seen before, and I took a note of Indie Craft by Jo Waterhouse which had some great subversive and fun ideas.

After the exhibition we headed for Ouseburn. I had been looking for a place to deposit one of Kirsty Hall’s art jars which I found in Dalkeith as part of her 365 jars art project. I was lucky enough to meet up with Kirsty in Scotland recently and went on a jar walk with her in Lauder, to place one of her jars. While she was up in Scotland she placed several jars about, and I managed to find a couple, and decided to release one of them into the wild in a place Kirsty might not reach (they are mostly in the Bristol area). So I have deposited jar 100 in the Ouseburn area.

Jar Art in Ouseburn

Will someone find it, and register it on Kirsty’s site?

The main reason we went to Ouseburn was to go to the Cluny

Outside the Cluny

for a cool atmosphere and great beer and grub.

Beer in the Cluny

The Cluny is also a gig venue, and occasionally home of the Cluny Craft Market organised by Newcastle Craft Mafia. It is in old warehouse buildings next to the Ouse Burn,

Cluny buildings

Seven Stories, a fun gallery about children’s books, is next door,

Back of Seven Stories and Ouse Burn

Back of Seven Stories and Ouse Burn

and there is a city farm.

City Farm Ouseburn

Our afternoon continued up the hill to the Cumberland Arms, which has a calmer atmosphere, and is more of a folk pub.

Cumberland Arms Outside

My friend has seen Morris Dancing outside it before! It doesn’t look much from the outside, apart from the amusing 70’s signs,

Cumberland Arms signs

but has an unspoiled traditional interior,

Cumberland Arms Bar

beautiful inlaid Marquetry table tops,

Cumberland Arms table

and like the Cluny, an incredible selection of Real Ales and Ciders. After plenty of the most delicious beer,

Beer at the Cumberland Arms

and now a little unsteady on our feet, we headed off to the Metro, via the Byker Wall,

Byker Wall

a very original looking housing estate

Byker Wall sign

designed by Ralph Erskine, a local landmark and now Grade II listed building. I personally like the look of the Byker Wall, though it’s not to everyone’s taste. Maybe it’s a bit annoying for the residents to hear everyone being arty about the architecture when they have to live in it.

More Byker Wall

We both felt we were seeing real life versions of George Shaw paintings everywhere we went.

Byker Metro Station looking like a George Shaw painting

Byker Metro Station looking like a George Shaw painting

It’s great when art makes you look at the world with new eyes.



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