Friday, October 14, 2016


Wallsington Woods Update
Newcastle City Council counts on subjects being docile shocker!


Meanwhile ... The person or persons unknown who burnt down the Grade II Listed Hall nearly a year ago during the very popular 'Arsonists Festive Season' are still at large. Police are no further forward with their enquiries. We think. They are not saying much. In fact, everyone concerned just wants Newcastle Wildlife to go away.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Arts and graft

Sometime ago, last century, I had an unfortunate encounter with the head of a local quango. I wanted to have a conversation with him about the role of the arts in regenerating this city. He was unused to speaking to oiks and dismissed my suggestion by addressing the room with his views about avant garde art that, in his view, consisted of little more than perversion. I think he may have felt his own enthusiasm for 'High Street U.K.' here on Tyneside was under some sort of threat; or, perhaps depressed at the string of failures of Newcastle's Public Art projects, expensive and very public. He saw only a golden future for retail developments ahead, where people borrowed money they could not (soon, soon) repay to buy stuff from glitzy shops – some of the biggest of whom were being enticed to open branches in Newcastle specifically to perform the task –  stuff they did not need at prices they could not afford, creating ... Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (U.S.) and Leman Brothers went under and the rest of the world followed shortly after, and the rest is, well, where we are now.

Mr High Street went on to higher things, "too big to fail".

The shops struggled and the posher ones failed to roll up. Instead the city centre is awash with coffee houses and 'pop-up' galleries and artsy venues.


But it gets better! News just in ... (link)

So the arts are riding to rescue the city after all. This event promises to be exceptional and proves the underlying point that creative endeavours (such as the tireless volunteers and others working to open the new independent Star and Shadow film theatre and collective bang next to Battlefield) are making an enormous contribution.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Battlefield to Baltic Part the Second

The second a final part of my walk to the Baltic Art Gallery on the Quayside.

When I first came to live in this city, Newcastle Quayside enjoyed a certain reputation. Not a place to stroll along for fun; absolutely not at night. The Tyne was a sewer.

Now look at it!

The first time I ever saw a Salmon leap was here a few years back.

It followed some much needed civil engineering in the 70s and the saving of the Newcastle Quayside from the plans developers who wanted to demolish all of it (!) to build offices. Thanks to the Amber film collective who, under the late Murray Martin had set up on the Side when it was very unfashionable (still there) this absolutely appalling idea was dropped. Much has resulted from that epic decision, some good, arguably some less so. People regret the loss of 'character's' and the edginess of Tyneside and its replacement by swank and money. But I think that's nostalgia; the old Quayside was no haven for anyone by the late 20th century. What's there today works for more people. It has also brought something to this city that was missing up until recently, a 'critical mass' of people who are willing and able to support the arts and leisure industries.

The Quayside is certainly a place to take visitors from anywhere to see what this city has for spectacle and splendour.

The Kittiwakes like it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Battlefield to Baltic Part the First

The sun has deserted today, but a late run of fine days in late summer included one when I took my camera on a walk from Battlefield (a.k.a. City Stadium) to the Baltic Art Gallery overlooking the River Tyne.

The area is changing rapidly as yet more student flats are being constructed and several new blocks have opened their doors. The transformation of the Battlefield (a.k.a. City Stadium) has been a bit breath taking. Once planned to be converted a major car park (1300 spaces!) and having survived some other plans (offices. 'we' need more empty offices apparently) what has happened is the least worse option. I hope some small measure of landscaping around the present paint factory 'student village' (puke) makes the spaces of battlefield and Lower Ouseburn 'knit' together in a way that ensures both have the best of futures. Fingers crossed?

A walk from Battlefield to the Baltic one fine day thus summer: slideshow off site link. (Jalbum)

(Note: This replaces in part a post made yesterday 14th September that ran into gremlins ...)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

London Wins Again

News just in that an architectural critics award known as ther 'Carbuncle Prize', named after a famous remark made by H.R.H. the Prince Charles when he saw a proposed 'addition' to Trafalgar Square designed by Sir Richard Rogers, has been announced in London.

Actually, I agree with the developers of the Lincoln Plaza (dreadful name but when your target clients are foreign investor's ...) that if it sells it must be doing something right. At least the building stirs up some reactions and responses. Much of what has been heaped upon Tyneside has been so mediocre it isn't even bizarre.

The Grade A* starred site of the old Cattle Market, just to the west of the Central Sation and next to Terry Farrell's Centre for Life, was crying out for something special; after all it's almost the first sight from the train coming into the city. What it got was a piece of 'tear a strip off and build it' space holder, now known as Jury's Inn. That must be worth ignoring with some sort of recognition surely?

Jury's Inn: Style less