Last summer, Joe and I visited Globe Gallery for an Afternoon Tea Party – the weather was dreadful, but we were welcomed out of the rain with cups of tea and slices of cake by the hospitable staff and volunteers of Globe. That was the first time either of us had visited the gallery, and we were amazed by the work (Yvette Hawkins’ 43 Houses and a Ford Escort), the space (a converted Co-Operative Bank), but most of all the generosity and professionalism of those working at Globe. We spoke with Yvette about her work and about her artistic practice, and we were amazed that a space existed in Newcastle where young artists could have solo shows so early on in their careers. As Fine Art students ourselves, who are very aware of the competitive art scene and the gloomy cuts to arts funding, we found the Globe’s attitude to recent graduates very reassuring!
One year on, back from Sheffield for the summer holidays, Joe and I visited our favourite Newcastle gallery, post-refurbishment, to see the first part of the Altered Space series of exhibitions. As we walked in through the front door, we were greeted not only by Francis Gomilla’s unsettling video, Nachbarn, filmed out of the window of his Berlin studio, but by Lucy, the exceptionally well dressed Gallery Administrator. Lucy brought us biscuits and cups of tea and led us to the different spaces in the gallery, where we watched Edmonds and Healey’s Linear Shift on the first floor and were amazed by Rachel Clewlow’s prints in the Plan Chest Gallery. Joe and I had made up our minds to apply to volunteer at Globe online as soon as we got home, but Rashida the Gallery Director beat us to it (!), and invited us to volunteer with them for The Late Shows.
It was so exciting working on the evening of The Late Shows – busloads of visitors made it to the Globe that night, despite traditional British summertime weather, and we helped them to build Embedded Union, a participatory sculpture initiated by archiGRAD. We helped visitors to roll up tubes of silver foil and attach to them thoughts, memories or ideas about space and about the exhibition, so that the room slowly filled up with floating silver tubes, whose shadow projected an imagined skyline onto the wall of the gallery. It was fantastic that so many people who were new to Globe came to visit that evening, and we knew that, if any of these visitors were going to come back, we had to impress them with a great gallery experience, like we had been impressed on our visits to the Globe. Working on Embedded Union was inspiring; visitors’ thoughts were often profound and refreshing, and the other volunteers were efficient as well as enthusiastic and friendly.
We also volunteered for the opening of Dear Angel, an exhibition curated by Suzy O’Hara, which examines the relationship between a culture and its local history. Choosing to subvert contemporary forms of digital communication, visitors were encouraged in the lead-up to the exhibition to write a postcard to the Angel of The North; while Tom Schofield’s Optimism Skyward printed physical manifestations of ‘tweets’ addressed to @_dearangel - exhibition guides were even handed out in envelopes for visitors to take away with them. Volunteering for Dear Angel’s opening was a pleasure – the audience was so engaged with the work (particularly the strawberry witch trials!) and the artists were on-hand to speak to us about their work before the opening began.
Having just finished our second year at university, we are starting to think about what we might choose to do when we finish our degrees – both Joe and I want to continue our art practices, but we are also interested in working in galleries or museums. Working at Globe in the day-to-day running of the gallery has, therefore, been extremely helpful for us both to help define what it is about working in art environments that we enjoy, whether it is administrative or technical - we would love to run a gallery or artists’ studios. Working here, we have prepared gallery spaces for exhibition; helped to archive the work in the Plan Chest gallery on a digital inventory system; greeted visitors to the gallery and cleared out and organised the art storage room.
Nothing from Something, Dear Angel and Embedded Union all epitomise mine and Joe’s favourite things about Globe Gallery. Dalwood’s fleeting, transitory work makes you look at the first floor of this gallery with fresh eyes, and see this incredible space anew; while the engagement with local and social history Dear Angel reminds us of how important it is to make and produce work that has relevance and specificity to its surroundings. Finally, archiGRAD’s desire to include the audience as the cornerstone of Embedded Union emphasises how critical it is to inspire the general public to be involved in the art world, whether that is by participating in an evolving sculpture of silver cylinders, or by writing a letter to the Angel of the North, or by volunteering at your local gallery.