Northern Arts: Opening Up the Ouseburn 01

Posted on December 30, 2015


Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley is the centre of a thriving arts scene. Once or twice a year the artist studios throw open their doors to the public to show what they’ve been working on, and it’s a revelation.

Entity II by Jo Mitchell

Entity II by Jo Mitchell

There is so much talent hidden away in the studios of Newcastle’s Ouseburn area. Everyone from amazing animators to master furniture makers gets to show their wares during the city’s Late Shows in May, or in the November Open Ouseburn days.

The Ouseburn was once the industrial heart of Byker. Barges and boats ferried goods from warehouse to wharf. It was home to boat builders and keelmen who took coal down river to the colliery ships. Waterwheels powered the mills that dotted the quayside along the river Tyne. Leethams Flour mill, built in 1848, became the Cluny Warehouse that is now the Cluny bar and music venue, and artist studio complex at 36 Lime Street.

36 Lime Street
One of the strongest artist communities is found in 36 Lime Street. It began back in 1983, long before the process of reclaiming old industrial buildings for artists and small businesses became a popular way to regenerate urban areas. Inside are two incredible glass workers sharing a space called Zoe Garner and Jo Mitchell.

Zoe Garner is widely travelled, having worked for the Cydonia glass studio in Sydney on large scale interior installations, and has a masters degree in glass design from Sunderland University. Her work (below) has influences from chemistry and includes sculpture and intricate glass jewellery.

Joanne Mitchell was a resident artist at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland before moving to Lime Street in 2012. She produces sculptural work for gallery exhibitions, designs for the glassware industry and commissions for corporate and domestic interiors. Look at her work (below), it uses air entrapped in glass to incredible effect.

Another promising artist and illustrator at Lime Street is Hannah Scully, whose print work, photography and graphic design were on display. She combines lots of different influences from pop and modern art, anatomy drawings and technology. I particularly liked the polar-panoramic photographs – 360 spherical pictures – and the pop culture ‘painting by numbers’ depictions of well-known people.


Toffee Factory
One of the newer complexes in the valley is the Toffee Factory – once part of a slaughterhouse, then a lard warehouse and a sweet factory. It’s now one of the slickest studio complexes for arts and design businesses in the region, among them the creative agency TL Multimedia.

TL is run by artists and animators Tim Lozinski and Chloe Rodham. At Open Ouseburn the pair were showcasing their latest project, The Illuminarium, ‘an immersive exhibition of luminous sculptures and moving image exploring the life-cycle of moths’.

Chloe Rodham is an incredible model maker and stop-motion animator. Her showreel (below) highlights the best of her work from promo and music videos.

Tim meanwhile has a great little motion graphics and 3D animation on Bioinformatics, showing the depth and contrast in their work.


Mushroom Works
Artist Amanda Rabey has a studio in the nearby Mushroom Works. She is an award-winning artist whose work is on permanent display as part of the Cambridge University New Hall Collection of Twentieth Century Women’s Art. Her work uses complex geometric shapes to depict nature – the ‘city flowers’ are great – and she told me she is fascinated by scientific principles and evolution.

While I was trawling around the Mushroom Works I also spied these great comic character canvases. They weren’t attributed but I love 70s-style Marvel comics so I took some quick snaps.


Update: 8.1.06 changed the order of the post around to make it more logical. Hindsight is a wonderful thing…