The Art of Newcastle_ Part 5 ~ The Laing

The Laing Art Gallery was founded in 1901 by a Newcastle Businessman, Alexander Laing, who’d made a fortune from his wine and spirit shop and beer bottling business. And that was that. He didn’t put any paintings or other artworks into it and said he was confident “…that by the liberality of the inhabitants {of Newcastle} it would soon be supplied with pictures and statuary for the encouragement and development of British Art”.

And so it was. It is now home to an internationally important collection of art focusing on British oil painting watercolours, ceramics, silver, and glassware.  As well as regularly changing exhibitions of historic, modern and contemporary art.  The ground floor is home to the Northern Spirit gallery which displays outstanding artwork and objects produced locally by people including Thomas Bewick, Ralph Hedley, and John Martin. You can also see Newcastle silver, glass and ceramics on show. Also on the ground floor is a beautiful Marble Hall, which is occupied by artworks by Henry Moore and Turner Prize nominee Paul Noble.

Upstairs is the 18th and 19th-century display, including internationally important paintings by John Martin, Paul Gauguin, and Burne-Jones. This is also where William Holman-Hunt’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Isabella and the Pot of Basil is displayed.

The exhibitions you pay to get in, but the rest is free. They had a photography exhibition the day we went which was exciting to us for 1 minute until we saw it was ‘celebrities in the nude’. As the advertising image for the exhibition was of Mick Jagger, we decided not to. I know, we should have, but really, I don’t want to see old men’s dangly bits for free, let alone pay to do so!

Anyway, on with some works of art, some of which I can tell you the artist name and some I can’t!

This one appealed to me, I loved the TV Ariel and how the iron is steaming away whilst she’s either picking up beads or making a pattern with them (not sure).

The Ruins of a Northumbrian Keep by Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917)

I can’t remember who did it, and I couldn’t get a decent shot of it, but I really loved this cat

This wood carving thingy was just amazing

A ginormous panorama of Tyne Docks covered one wall

The Bard, by John Martin (1789-1894) was gorgeous close-up, if you’re on a mobile then you won’t really see the great details, but for those on a PC give it a click.

Inspired by a poem, with the same name, written by Thomas Gray in 1755. In the poem, Gray narrates the story of King Edward I of England and his conquest of Wales in the late 13th century. Following his victory over the Welsh Edward decided that all the bards, the professional poets, could be dangerous if they were allowed to spread the story of the bygone power of the Welsh people as this may incite the defeated Welsh to rise up against their English masters. Edward ordered the Bards to be slaughtered and the painting depicts the fate of the last surviving bard who has been chased by Edward’s troops and who has climbed a precipice above a swirling river. He stands aloft cursing the English troops, who have left their castle, and are in pursuit of their quarry. The castle, based on the one at Harlech, we see perched on rocks in the left middle-ground. In the left foreground, we see Edward’s riders with banners unfurled as they rush along the valley side like a swarm of ants. On the top of the cliff on the opposite side of the fast flowing river, we observe the bard, cursing his pursuers before throwing himself off the ledge and plunging to his death.

Isabella and the Pot of Basil. A strange tale, but lovely painting.

Isabella and the Pot of Basil is a painting completed in 1868 by William Holman Hunt depicting a scene from John Keats’s poem Isabella, or the Pot of Basil. It depicts the heroine Isabella caressing the basil pot in which she had buried the severed head of her murdered lover Lorenzo. Hunt had drawn an illustration to the poem in 1848, shortly after the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but he had not developed it into a completed painting.  Hunt returned to the poem in 1866, shortly after his marriage, when he began to paint several erotically charged subjects. His sensuous painting Il Dolce Far Niente had sold quickly, and he conceived the idea for a new work depicting Isabella. Having traveled with his pregnant wife Fanny to Italy, Hunt began work on the painting in Florence. However, after giving birth, Fanny died from fever in December 1866. Hunt turned the painting into a memorial to his wife, using her features for Isabella. He worked on it steadily in the months after her death, returning to England in 1867, and finally completing it in January 1868.

I also really liked Love in Idleness by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

Love in Idleness is an old name for the pansy flower. The artist is suggesting that the young women in the portrait are as beautiful as flowers. He also links loveliness to love. Roses, which are symbols of love, carry on the theme. Alma-Tadema’s paintings of beautiful young women in convincing Roman-style settings were very popular in the late-19th century. The realistic detail of his pictures was based on Roman wall paintings and sculpture. He saw Roman works of art in 1863 during visits to the ruined cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in Italy.

The Laing has a very nice cafe

And we’ll finish up with some very strange but quirky and fascinating wallpaper in the hallway.

and that’s the end of our hunt for art!

All pictures are clickembiggenable,

and a full album can be found HERE

The Art of Newcastle ~ The Biscuit Factory ~ Part 2 ~ Jan 2019

Still looking around in the Biscuit Factory, these are the things that caught my eye and that I liked.

Born in 1957 Rob van Hoek is a professional Dutch artist who has exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the Netherlands, UK, Denmark and France. Rob is inspired by landscape, especially cultivated landscapes.
Pratima’s love of art has been lifelong even though she originally trained as a scientist. Pratima started studying at various universities through their open study programmes and started making art, primarily in mixed media. Through her ongoing experimentation she has developed a personalised style of creating distinctive forms of composition, harmony and mood. The artefacts that frequently appear in her work are collected during her frequent travels throughout India, as she tries to encapsulate all aspects of the country including the magnificent sculptures, stunning textures, vibrant colours and vitality of the subjects.

I liked this chess table, though not sure how comfortable the spine~chairs would be!

Creations in wood by David Lightly & Ross Purves, otherwise known as The Wood Neuk
Zoe Robinson studied an MA in Fine Art in Northumbria University in 1999. For the past ten years she has been teaching drawing and sculpture. Zoe’s current work is animal studies with wire and mixed media. 


Phil McMenemy is a photographer based in Dumfries, Scotland. Originally from Barrow-in-Furness, Phil has worked in Engineering and as a Mental Health Nurse working with children but now is forging a successful career as an artist and gallery owner in south-west Scotland.
Malcolm Lewis is a self-taught decorative artist, designer and sculptor from Newcastle. With a free-spirited, creative flair, which he developed from a young age, Malcolm draws inspiration from organic matter and living creatures in order to design and create his quirky pieces that are truly one of a kind.  (Legs by Sophie and myself.)

Phil McLoughlin was a successful artist (as Phil Barker) in the 1970s, winning the prestigious Pernod Prize at the Royal Scottish Academy (1974) and two years later becoming a founder member of the Dundee Group (Artists), which included Jack Knox, Grant Clifford and Jack Morocco. In 1980 he began his doctoral studies and when commissioned to write his first book he decided to exchange art for a career in academia. By 1990 Dr Barker was Director of Studies at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Dundee and spent the next 20 years as a professor and psychotherapist in universities in England, Japan, Australia and Ireland, becoming one of the world’s leading authorities on mental health recovery. He returned to art in 2010 as McLoughlin – taking the name of his grandfather who had first encouraged his interest in art.


another three I can’t find the name of,

Loved these cheery little timepieces.
Mrs.Woods doing her hair.
My fave bird.


The doors to all the rooms in the gallery, all had handprints on them and you just had to use them!

Hacksaw and towel please.

Well that’s a smattering of the good stuff at The Biscuit Factory, but we’ll move along next time and find more arty farty stuff!

Stay tooned folks!

The Art of Newcastle ~ The Biscuit Factory ~ Jan 2019

    The UK’s largest independent commercial art, craft & design gallery set in the heart of Newcastle’s cultural quarter

A commercial art gallery, café, and restaurant converted from a former biscuit factory which was operated by the Gibson family between 1860 and 1870. It has four floors, two of which were submerged when the street level was raised and these now serve as basement studios which are available for artists to rent.

The gallery has everything, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, and jewelry!  So much to see.

As you walk in the space is clean and airy and nicely set out with groups of ceramics, pottery etc.

Pieces complement each other in their settings, so Jane Walkers print goes nicely with Alan Balls ceramics.

I am not really a fan of ‘modern art’ or rather I wasn’t! I did like this by Trevor Price.

Trevor Price born in 1966 specialises in drypoints and etchings, handmade and printed by the artist from his studios in St. Ives and Bermondsey, south London. He is a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (since 1992) and the Vice President 2013 – 2018.

I also loved the sculptures by Peter Sales.  I wanted this Ostrich for my garden!

Peter Sales lives and works in County Durham, UK. His sculptural work predominately represents animals, fish, and birds, and celebrates the incongruity of nature. He aims to imbue a feeling of movement and a sense of frailty and vulnerability, which brings his pieces to life. Peter’s sculptures have a unique style and strike a balance between realism and humour. They are constructed from reclaimed steel and sheet metals, and he achieves their vibrant colours using car spray paint and thick lacquer.

There were a few of his pieces around, I’d have had them all!

These made me smile by Susan O’Byrne

Susan O’Byrne was born and grew up in Cork, Ireland. In 1991 she received a Certificate with Merit from the Grennan Mill Craft School in Co. Kilkenny. From there she moved to Scotland and the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 1999 with a First Class Honours Degree in Design and Applied Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma in Ceramics in 2000.

Apologies for not getting this artists name, really should take notes!!

I liked the beauty and simplicity of this wooden bowl by Jane Crisp

Jane works from home in a studio and workshop surrounded by beautiful countryside in Hale Fen, Cambridgeshire. Jane loves the qualities of natural materials like wool, wood, copper and brass and experiments with the mythologies of making amplifying traditional techniques in a contemporary way.

The gallery gives space to the sculptures so you can look all around them without knocking anything over (which is always a risk with me fat bum and camera backpack!)

Portrait of a Diva by Christy Keeny

The gallery runs an interest-free loan scheme which I think brilliant as it means art is affordable and the artists don’t have to encheapen themselves to make a living.

That’s it for today, but still more art to come so stay tooned!