The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Frigging great photos on display at the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle


I’ve long been let down by major photography galleries and the boring, conceptual and god damned unfathomable exhibitions they frequently put on.

So, believe me, I was bloody shocked to find some of the best photography I’ve seen in yonks on display during the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle and Gateshead this summer.

Great Exhibition of the North is a three-month city wide programme of art, design and invention. I mean, it’s not even specifically an art event. But someone, somewhere has persuaded The Baltic and Side Gallery to show some of the greatest documentary images you will ever see in one place – well, okay, two places – by pretty much all the greatest documentary photographers this country has ever produced.

The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, which has a decent track record in showing great photography, has had two great summers holding the best general art exhibitions of its short life (it opened in 2002).

At the moment you’ve got Turner-prize winner Lubaina Himid on the ground floor (until Oct 28, 2018), part of the Great North Exhibition and the group exhibition Idea on the North on Level 4 (until Sept 30, 2018).DSC_7998

The images of Gateshead’s 1980s underground music scene by Chris Killip are flipping unreal. They are worth they admission fee alone (admission is actually free) while Women by Women shows the work of several female photographers based in the north east of England, curated by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen.

Strangely enough, Konttinen’s career of stunning documentary images has been hugely supported by Side Gallery across the river in Newcastle. And you can see more of her work – and Killip’s – in their current Great North Exhibition linked-show About the North: Imagine Dialogues.

Now, I have had plenty of negative things to say about Side Gallery and how it is run (you can scroll down my blog and find it if you’re that determined) but this exhibition is possibly the best thing they have ever produced: 125 documentary photographs by 35 photographers. This show, curated by Dean Chapman, is like crack for photography fans too used to nibbling on dry tasteless rice cakes of socially-engaged, abstract contemporary image exhibitions.

The Side Gallery (below) exhibition runs until Sept 9, 2018 – but don’t forget the place is not open on Mondays.DSC_8048


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This entry was posted on August 22, 2018 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .
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