I had a fantastic time at the Late Shows this weekend. Full of excitement and smiles off we went on Newcastle’s spectacular Museums at Night events. The Late Shows is a culture crawl Extravaganza in Newcastle and Gateshead for Museums at Night when 49 venues open their doors to the public late into the night. It’s a brilliant juxtaposition of cultural crawlers and pub crawlers. Newcastle’s Quayside and Bigg Market are renowned for the short skirts, no coats and heavy drinking, but on Friday and Saturday the Late Shows’ took over and hoards of people with glow sticks were roaming the streets, intermingled with hen and stag dos. What I liked the best that people who wouldn’t normally visit some of the museums and galleries but were obviously were on their way out for a night on the tiles, popped in to some of the cultural venues (probably hypnotised by the brilliant glowsticks) and actually had a great time.
First up was the Victoria Tunnel
I had no idea that there was a tunnel right underneath the heart of Newcastle! The Victoria Tunnel runs beneath the city from the Town Moor down to the Tyne. It was built in 1842 to transport coal down to the Quay, and was later reused as an air raid shelter and as a place to grow mushrooms (that endeavour didn’t last long however). I really enjoyed this tour, not only did it remind me of my Geevor days, but it was fascinating to hear about its history by our enthusiastic volunteer guide. The Tunnel is dark, and really quite confined, particularly going through the blast walls but it is well worth it! It is very visually striking, and has an atmosphere that you can’t quite put your finger on.
I like the biscuit factory, not for its art but for its walls, it has fantastic brick walls, and for the longing that it does still contain biscuits. On Friday the artists studios were open, it’s always enlightening to talk to the artists and find out more about their work. We also got to see the From Wood to Paper exhibition which presents contemporary carpentry and intriguing paper sculptures, I particularly liked the sculptural bookworks, they look brilliant. I also had a go at making an origami butterfly. I was not very good at it. So I tried to redeem myself by drawing an artwork inspired by the music that was playing though the gallery. I was not good at that either, a 4 yr old could have done better. Crayon is clearly not my medium. But it was a great night despite my inabilities as an artist.
It’s like a Tardis, bigger on the inside! It is a maze of 12th Century stone staircases, and rooms, and basements, and ceilings. It is fantastic, and so is the view from the top. The architecture and craftsmanship is outstanding, from the wooden pegs in the door frames to the chapel ceiling.
We also paid a visit to the Side Gallery, I wasn’t a fan of the A Luta Continua! Exhibition on show, but I really like the rickety stairs up to the 1st floor gallery!
The Late Shows’ main aim is to encourage people to visit a museum or gallery that they may not have visited before. I’m a Geordie girl born and bred but some of the places on the culture crawl I hadn’t actually been to and it was a fantastic opportunity to see some of the hidden wonders around Newcastle. What really hits you about the Late Shows is the scale. There is no way you could visit all of the venues in a couple of nights, there is so much to see and do! It’s amazing to think about the wealth of cultural goodies available, and the experience really does leave you wanting more.