Friday, 20 November 2015

The Baltic


The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.

The building is a converted flour mill. The mill was built for the Rank Hovis company to a late-1030s design by architects Gelder and Kitchen and was completed in 1950. It closed in 1981. Dominic Williams converted the building into an arts centre and it opened to the public at midnight on Saturday 13 July 2002.

The centre stages temporary exhibitions. There are only two permanent exhibits, and the one above, is one of them. It's Blake in Gateshead (1966) by Jaume Plensa.

The artists' statement: 'Walking near the Tyne and thinking of Blake, I thought a new bridge was needed, a vertical bridge to bring us towards another kind of landscape. That landscape is above our heads and underneath our feet and maybe because it is too close or too far it is unattainable'.

We visited the library


And then we went up to the fifth floor, where we could look down to the fourth floor where the next exhibition which is opening on the 20th of November, was being set up.

Bill Murray: a story of Distance, Size and Sincerity by Brian Griffiths
The artist's statement: Bill Murray is always authentic. He is consistently Bill Murray. His singularity breaks into irreducible ambiguities and contradictions - Bill the global superstar, the guy-next-door, anti-brand brand, irrepressible lothario, dignified clown and droll philosopher. This exhibition will take these and many other characteristics as an approach, turning them into a fantasy caricatures and a poetic tableau of scaled down architecture and collections.

The artist setting the exhibition up



We then moved on to the viewing platform: the Tyne, Gateshead and Newcastle were in front of us


an excellent view of the Millennium bridge


as well as The Sage.

We then had a look at the second permanent exhibit of the Baltic. Heaven and Hell (2012) by Mark Wallinger

Two identical mirrors face each other from the top and base of the stairwell creating an infinitely steepled perspective. As Wallinger points out, a fear of heights is ultimately a fear of death. Look down into the void and the fall is endless, look up and the ascent would take forever.

The photograph above is looking down


and this photograph is looking above.

The photographs do not convey the feeling of vertigo that was induced.



  1. It's an amazing place, isn't it! I saw a couple of exhibitions there when it first opened, but have not been back for several years. The Sage looks fabulous too.

    1. This was my second visit, Olga, and it was as good as the first one. It was also extremely busy: lots of people looking at the exhibitions, or just milling about, clearly enjoying themselves. The shop is great too - lots of fun things on display as well as a good collection of books on art. I look forward to my next visit!