Thursday, 15 November 2018

The NewBridge Project Annual General Meeting - 6-8pm - Thursday 29th November 2018

The NewBridge Project
Annual General Meeting

Thursday 29 November, 6-8pm
The NewBridge Project, Carliol House Co-Work Space

You are invited to The NewBridge Project’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday 29 November, 6-8pm in the Carliol House Co-work space. 

The AGM will be an opportunity to hear about NewBridge’s activities over the last year, to discuss plans for the future, and to hear more about some artist members work through a series of short presentations. I'll be talking about my Voices: Within and Without project that was funded by Arts Council England.

Staff, members, artists, volunteers, funders, partners and members of the public are invited to join the meeting.

There will be time at the end for drinks and socialising, and there will be cake!

Forces News broadcasts video about Great and Tiny War

A couple of weeks ago Hannah King from Forces News visited 133 Sidney Grove to do some filming and interview Wunderbar Artistic Director, Ilana Mitchell about the installation. The film has now been broadcast and can be viewed here:

Newcastle exhibition in a terraced house is extended due to popularity

A museum exhibition is showcasing the role of women during the First World War.

The role of women in the First World War is being explored in an exhibition in Newcastle. It looks not at their part in the war effort - but rather their essential role in keeping households running.
'Great & Tiny War', by artist Bobby Baker, celebrates the women who stayed at home, bringing up children, feeding families and keeping households running while the Great War raged on.
Situated at 133 Sidney Grove, visitors are shown around the exhibition by an audio guide, telling stories about women's lives during the conflict.

Each room is dedicated to women’s domestic experiences during World War One –  an aspect of history Artistic Director of the project - Ilana Mitchell believes is often overlooked: "The focus very often on war is about the fighting, the politics.
"Very often work that is traditionally women’s work, housework, domestic work, is overlooked as something that is valued."
One downstairs room has been dubbed the 'Baked Armoury' and is filled with artistic sculptures, from a dove and a pineapple to barbed wire.
All the artwork has been baked by women with a diverse connection to warfare; some are refugees, whilst others are veterans.
"We started off with the idea of baked weapons," Ms Mitchell told Forces News.
"We worked with bread dough which is a very funny sculpture material because it’s very uncontrollable and also very domestic.
"Actually rather than weapons, most of the works are sort of amulets – sort of more protective, more gentle-seeming."

The final room contains 4,701 peppermint creams, designed to represent how many meals a family at home would have aimed to eat during the 1,567 days of the Great War.
Bobby Baker’s 'Great & Tiny War' will remain open to members of the public until 28 November 2018.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Nicola Singh Artist talk at Newcastle University

Woah, I feel I have just emerged from a really unique environment in which an established artist whose work I admire has shared with an audience her doubt about a performance she has then gone on to perform to us.

Initially Nicola Singh explained what she was about to perform and her reasoning behind her choice of artist presentation. She intended for there to be a discussion at the end of the performance.

This was a performance in itself that was about the performance at IMT Gallery, London as part of a group exhibition.

She had been unsure about the performance in the gallery (ethics, was it making her too vulnerable? was it the right time and place for it), and was unsure about the performance in the Lecture Theatre (what would the audience gain? was she in the right mental state? was the context right? would it be useful?) She did not apologise for her doubt.

The manner in which she delivered the text echoed, in some ways, the content of the text. It had been written as though it was being spoken, with the comments, pauses, distractions and tangential thoughts that would usually be edited out, included. Her voice was soft, and the pace was fairly slow; her manner was thoughtful and composed. At times she moved the weight of her body from one hip to the other, and would tilt her neck to one side as though she was releasing some tension that was making her uncomfortable. She listened to each word as she said them. 

I fully understand the reasons behind reading the text from a script as opposed to memorising it or speaking 'off the cuff'. It revealed that there had been a process of construction and editing prior to the delivery; it was practical; Firstly it included parts of writing that she had made during her time in London, and, secondly, she did not have enough time to learn it off by heart. Reading it also enabled her to focus on where the text came from within her - i.e. her performance came from the heart as opposed to the head, which is where it would have come from if she had memorised it. 

As she stood at the front of the Lecture Theatre, without any images on the screen behind her, my attention was drawn to her body language and my mind created its own imagery based on what I was hearing. 

She outlined what happened over the course of the 4 days prior to the private view of the exhibition;

She had 3 tinder dates in which each of her dates made a clay monkey from air dried clay

She gave a lack of specifics about the dates and the clay monkeys, but detailed her paths of thought, the context and the conversations that she had outside of the dates themselves.

The audience were then invited to pose questions and start a discussion.

I felt that, given that the content of the performance was so rich with a wide range of relevant issues and problems, it was a shame that she would not perform it in a gallery. 

When asked why, she highlighted that her previous experience has lead her to believe that an audience in a gallery would not be likely to enter into a discussion about a performance that they had just witnessed. She also spoke about her need to take care of herself as a performer, and the fact that doing the same performance in a gallery would expose her in a way that she avoided when doing it in the Lecture Theatre in an institution where she was in company with people that she knew and a city that she called home. This has left me thinking about my current experience as a host at Bobby Baker's Great and Tiny War installation. In my experience with this installation, despite the difficult issues within the work, in the kitchen at the end of the tour, visitors are most often happy to enter into deep discussions with strangers over a cup of tea and a biscuit. 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Thursday, 8 November 2018

"Pull Yourself Together"

nb. An appropriate instruction to be given to automatic closing curtains, 

but not to be used to support someone having a hard time!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

New artists and mental health resource: Bobby Baker on making art that explores traumatic experiences

In a new a-n Resources profile to coincide with Bobby Baker’s 14–18 NOW commission ‘Great & Tiny War’ – the run for which has just been extended – Lydia Ashman talks to the artist about her experiences of the mental health system and the need to address ‘transgenerational trauma’.

Alastair Cummings and Peek Films, Still from 'Great & Tiny War' trailer, 2018.

The house is populated with multimedia artworks which represent different eras of the war. These include a display of 4,701 miniature meals, crafted from peppermint cream, and an armoury of baked weapons. Visitors, who are greeted by a host and guided around the show in small groups, are accompanied by an audio recording voiced by Bobby Baker. Following the tour, which takes 40-50 minutes, visitors can reflect on the exhibition over a cup of tea in the kitchen.
Mitchell adds: “‘Great & Tiny War’ has had an extraordinary reception, from teens to older people, from the local neighbours to those travelling to Newcastle from all over the UK. And the conversations in the kitchen, inspired by the ideas raised in the work, have been as wide ranging as the people visiting.”
Baker’s installation spotlights the frequently unsung contribution that women made during the war in the form of domestic labour and also highlights the wide-reaching and often hidden repercussions of conflict and trauma on mental health.
Speaking to Lydia Ashman in the new a-n Resources profile, Baker explains that both mental health and domestic life have been recurring themes in her work since the early 1970s, work that often subverts everyday experiences and uses humour as a tool to connect with people.
She also discusses the frustration she feels as an “older woman artist” and how, bar a very few small exceptions, she has only ever been given opportunities by women. At 67, she says she feels “more emboldened to speak out because I discover that there are many women who feel like me”.
“Having periods of bad mental health is part of the human condition and something that people can survive,” she says. “Being an artist is how I processed some terrible experiences, but I’ve emerged, the happiest I’ve ever been. Art saved my life.”
‘Great & Tiny War’ continues in Newcastle upon Tyne until 28 November 2018.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

End of an era for Lyres of Lemniscate

Last night's Drone Ensemble gathering became a bit of a Lyres of Lemniscate debrief.

Unfortunately we do not have enough storage space to keep all the instruments, and so we had to dismantle the two lyres that were created specially for our Lyres of Lemniscate exhibition at Workplace Foundation. This action inevitably marked an end to the Lyres of Lemniscate 'project', which in turn lead to some discussions about future Drone Ensemble projects.

We have decided that, after the past few months of intense Drone Ensemble activity, we are going to have a bit of a break for a little while. But fear not! This is not the end of Drone Ensemble. We are going to give each other a little more time to focus on some of our individual projects. Also, rather than rushing into planning another gig with little time, we want to spend some time simply practicing and becoming more familiar with playing some of the instruments. This experimentation and rehearsal time is vital, and should lead to us developing some exciting new material for us to perform to an audience.

We have some tentative plans for performances next year, and so do keep your eyes peeled for these to be announced.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Spoken Word and Performance workshop with a Shaddock surprise!

Yesterday spent another amazingly inspirational, productive and fun day facilitating an incredibly talented group of Newcastle University Fine Art students on a Spoken Word and Performance workshop.

The students range from 1st - 4th year undergraduates, and are really supportive of each other and engaged in what everyone is doing. Over the course of the day we thoroughly examined everyone's text and thought of numerous possibilities of presenting and delivering the work. The progress made has been significant.

Next Friday is the final session and I look forward to experiencing how their work has further developed between now and then.

I regard my role as a facilitator and am keen to eliminate any hierarchy between them and me. We all learn together and share experience and ideas. I find this fosters a really productive and experimental environment where people are happy to contribute.The students seem to enjoy it too.

At one point in the workshop I mentioned a work that I made involving a shaddock (a fruit).

(When I was a child my Grandad told me that our surname, Shaddock, is a fruit. Years later when I was living in Glasgow, I decided to go on a 'quest to find a shaddock'. I went to my closest greengrocer and asked for a shaddock, only to find they had never heard of one! I asked them to suggest where they thought I would be able to source one, and I followed their instructions and asked there. This process continued until I eventually located a shaddock. The shaddock was discovered by Captain Shaddock who traveled to the Carribean, and brought the fruit back to the UK where he named it. 

Shortly after my discovery, I was involved in a group exhibition, so my contribution was shaddock canapes and shaddock cocktails. 

I later took the shaddock to the Barras market, a traditional market renowned for bartering, in the East End of Glasgow. I had a shaddock stall whereby I offered shaddock produce along with a story about the shaddock in return for a story. Initially people were suspicious of me handing out free produce, but as word spread around the market about what I was doing, this quickly turned into curiosity and I had lots of people really eager to share their stories with me. It was a super way to be educated into the local dialect!)

See some documentation of this on my website

After lunch the students surprised me as they had been to a local greengrocer and bought a shaddock for us to share! It made a delicious afternoon snack.

Great work today folks!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Spoken word and performance workshop at Newcastle University

Over the past couple of days I have been facilitating a Spoken Word and Performance workshop with students at Newcastle University who have an interest in transforming written text based work into spoken word performance. The workshop will continue next Friday and will result in a small group exhibition of work made by the students during the 3-day workshop. 

I developed the workshop having returned from the Spoken Word Residency at Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada last year, and use the workshop as an opportunity to share some of the techniques, skills and tips learned while on the residency.

Following the success of the workshop last year and the demand from students, Newcastle University invited me back to work with a different group of students.

During the session yesterday I showed the group some examples of artists that use spoken word / text / performance. As I was compiling the list to share with them I thought it would be useful to share it more widely, so here are the links to some works that I mentioned. Please be aware that this list is only mean to be a taster and in no way does it cover all artists working in these ways. It is simply a starting point!

ZENSHIP - Mundo Gumbo - Tanya Evanson

This is an example of how a live band can be used in spoken word performance.

Afua Cooper at VERSEfest

This demonstrates that a convincing performance can be given even if the performer is using written notes.

Martin Creed - Words and Music

This is an example of the combination of words, music, visuals (on the screen behind) and how the means of delivery can echo the content of the work.

Blonk performs Ursonate with real-time typography

This is an example of how subtitles can add to a work.

Samuel Beckett - Not I

This is an example of how spoken word can exist in a video and how cropping of an image alters the reading of the work.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Front Row investigates how winter affects the mental health of creatives

Following the turning back of the clocks, Monday's edition of Front Row on BBC Radio 4 investigated the affect the darkening days has on writers, particularly those with mental health issues. 

Poet Helen Mort and novelist Matt Haig examined how the character of their work, their productivity and their routine changes during the winter months.

Lyres of Lemniscate - Drone Ensemble Workshop

On the final day of our Lyres of Lemniscate exhibition, Drone Ensemble lead a workshop in which we taught participants how to make an instrument. The workshop participants joined Drone Ensemble for the final performance of the exhibition. Workshop participants played their new instruments along with a range of the other Drone Ensemble instruments.

Joe began the workshop by demonstrating some fundamental principles of sound and explained how the different instruments work.

We then showed the group an example of the instrument that they were going to make, and took them through the different stages of creation.

Bending the metal.

We then showed the participants some of the other instruments that they could play in the performance.

After the demonstrations, participants got stuck into making their own instruments and tested out the instruments they would be playing in the performance.

Drone Ensemble would like to thank all the workshop participants for their enthusiasm, hard work and for making such a terrific contribution to the final performance. We hope that you enjoyed it!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Introducing a new instrument to the Drone Enseble

Following a workshop that Joe participated in during TUSK Festival, he was inspired to create a new instrument. The new addition to the Drone Ensemble was given its debut yesterday when Drone Ensemble lead an instrument making workshop. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Dialogues 5: The NewBridge Project : Gateshead

Dialogues 5: The NewBridge Project : Gateshead
6 - 8 November 2018

Exhibition launch: Tuesday 6 November, 5:30-8pm
Open crits: Wednesday 7 November, 1-4pm
The value of critique: Thursday 8 November, 10am-12pm

To mark the culmination of Mark Devereux Projects’ (MDP) critical mentoring project, Dialogues 5, MDP will be in residence in The NewBridge Project gallery space, holding three public events that will consider the value of critique. An exhibition of new and recent artwork from the project’s participating artists – Shaun C. Badham, Holly Davey, Hannah Leighton-Boyce, Hollie Miller, and Amy & Oliver-Thomas-Irvine – will act as the catalyst for these discussions.

Over four days, the artists and MDP team will be working in the gallery testing out new developments within their respective practices, from materials to the methods of display. This test-bed approach will be informed by the extensive conversations between MDP, the artists and their assigned curatorial mentor that have taken place throughout Dialogues 5. The results can be seen at an opening between 5.30-8pm Tuesday 6 November.

Critical dialogue lies at the heart of Dialogues 5, featuring two different opportunities to further engage with this important element of artistic practice. We invite audiences to attend an open crit session to discuss the work on display in the exhibition with the artists on Wednesday 7 November. The residency will conclude with an open discussion on the morning of Thursday 8 November, which will assess the importance of critical dialogue to artists in developing their practices. Attendees are encouraged to actively contribute their thoughts, experiences and perspectives during the event.

Director Mark Devereux says, “The NewBridge Project is the perfect venue to mark the culmination of Dialogues 5. The participating artists will use the residency to test experimental new works and methodologies, which they’ve been formulating over the past eight months, as an important step in translating these discussions into their respective practices.”

Further information

The NewBridge Project : Gateshead
232-240 High Street

Dialogues 5 is a major new project from Mark Devereux Projects providing tailored critique and mentoring for five visual artists. Selected from a national open call application process, the participating artists attended a five-day creative retreat at Clayhill Arts, Somerset, in June. The critical dialogue held before, during and after the retreat set-up curatorial mentoring between the artists and assigned mentors: Fiona Bradley (Director, Fruitmarket Gallery), David Kefford & Sarah Evans (Aid & Abet), Katie Hickman (Curator, BALTIC), Claire Mander (Director, theCoLAB) and Nathaniel Pitt (Director, Division of Labour). Dialogues 5 is supported by Arts Council England, Clayhill Arts and The NewBridge Project. Please visit for more information.

The NewBridge Project is an active and vibrant artist-led community supporting the development of artists and curators through the provision of space for creative practice, curatorial opportunities and an ambitious artist-led programme of exhibitions, commissions, artist development and events. The NewBridge Project was established in 2010 to provide exchange and support in an engaged and discursive community of artists. We develop artistic talent through artist development programmes, curatorial opportunities and provision of space. The shared workspace is a critical and collaborative environment that allows artists to discuss and develop new ideas and projects.

Image: Horst (London) | Amy & Oliver Thomas-Irvine | 2018 | installation view: Averard Hotel, London | image courtesy of the artist

Mark Devereux Projects is currently supported by:


Copyright © 2018 Mark Devereux Projects, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The White Pube - One of the best 'Creative' Talk's I've ever been to!

I'm just out of the weekly Artist / Curator / Writer Talk at Newcastle University and am totally buzzing and fired up. This week was 'The White Pube' "the collaborative identity of Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad under which [they] write criticism and (sometimes) curate. 

It is based at and also on Instagram and Twitter as @thewhitepube. 

[They] publish a new text every Sunday, mostly exhibition reviews but every so often baby essays filed under art thoughts

[They] started writing about art because [they thought] everything else was boring/overly academic/white nonsense////and male. 

Every review is a personal reaction, and a record of an encounter with an aesthetic experience. [They] wanna write GOOD ~ have politix ~ n call out the general bullshit that stops a lot of us even wantin 2 go to galleries."

Their presentation was equally as entertaining as their writing is, and it was a pure joy to listen to them freely discuss matters that simply many other creatives are too scared to approach. I'm thinking in particular of the fact that they share their accounts with readers and thus highlight the institutions that simply fail to pay a fair wage. 

It is too common that artists / writers / musicians / curators are paid a minimal fee without travel expenses and accommodation. If we all shared our accounts online it would show which institutions are good and bad at paying artists.

I feel there is a bigger conversation that needs to happen here, so please watch this space!

Monday, 22 October 2018

Drone Ensemble Performance at Workplace -3:15pm, Saturday 27th October

Hear Drone Ensemble perform within their installation Lyres of Lemniscate for the last time at Workplace Foundation, Gateshead.

The performance will feature a range of new instruments made during the preceding workshop (see separate event - booking necessary)

Lyres of Lemniscate was commissioned by Workplace Foundation and Tusk Festival supported by the Digital Cultures Research Group in CultureLab at Newcastle University.


Drone Ensemble Performance for TUSK FESTIVAL 2018 at Workplace Foundation. Photo: Rob Blazey

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Sign up now to participate in an instrument making workshop with Drone Ensemble at Workplace Foundation on Saturday 27th October

Sat 27 October 2018
13:00 – 16:00

Workplace Foundation
The Old Post Office
19-21 West Street

Join the Drone Ensemble in an instrument making workshop at Workplace Foundation.

Participants will have access to materials and tools and the expertise of Drone Ensemble members and will make new instruments that make use of both acoustic and amplified sounds.
Participants will then perform alongside Drone Ensemble in a public performance to close their installation Lyres of Lemniscate.
The workshop is suitable for participants 14 years and above and is limited to 12 spaces.
Lyres of Lemniscate was commissioned by Workplace Foundation and Tusk Festival supported by the Digital Cultures Research Group in CultureLab at Newcastle University.
Please reserve your ticket via the EventBrite link below

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Great and Tiny War Dates Extended - 7 September - 28 November 2018

Great & Tiny War now open until 28 November

It pleases me to announce that, to keep up with demand, the run of Bobby Baker's Great & Tiny War has been extended and extra time slots and more dates have been added so that everyone who wants to can come.


There are a maximum of 4 tickets available for each tour slot. Slots are available Wednesday to Sunday from 7 September to 28 November 2018.

Relaxed visits for Mondays, Tuesdays and mornings Wednesday – Friday are available by special arrangement – please email us or call 07535 008875.
Book tickets by following the link below

Access for all - New resources available

Easy read guideThe Wunderbar team are trying our hardest with the resources we have to ensure that the Great & Tiny War house is accessible for as many people as possible.

Visitors to the house can now use:
  • An easy read visual guide explaining clearly what to expect in advance
  • A captioned film showing what's upstairs in the house 
  • Audio descriptions for the blind or partially sighted
  • A portable hearing loop
  • A transcript of the audio guide
  • The option to listen to the audio tour on loud speaker
  • Bespoke visits tailored to your needs, including relaxed and BSL on request.

Do get in touch using the contact details below if there's anything we can do to help make your visit easier.


Tel:07535 008875. 

We'll do everything we can to make it work for you.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Drone Ensemble mention in the Guardian review!

Tusk festival review – multisensory showcase of sonic adventures
Dave Simpson

In darkness illuminated by spooky projections, Cee Haines AKA Chaines fuses guitar, clarinet, keyboard, looped banks of her own singing and at one point screaming to produce a mesmeric collage of ecclesiastical beauty and creeping dread. When a young woman in the crowd performs bizarre, interpretative dance movements in slow motion, it’s difficult to work out whether she is part of the audience or the performance. Now in its third year at the Sage, after intimate beginnings in 2011 at the Star and Shadow cinema, Tusk is a three-day festival of the experimental, weird and wonderful that features artists who rarely play in the UK. Ramones, Blondie and the Fall producer Craig Leon spotlights his lesser-known yet enduring guise of electronic composer. With longtime synth partner Cassell Webb and a string quartet, a superb performance draws from 1981’s pioneering proto-techno work Nommos and his forthcoming Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music vol 2: The Canon, blurring the divide between contemporary classical, synth punk and banging techno.

There is much to see and hear, from the visually stunning and hypnotic mechanical humming lyres of Newcastle’s Drone Ensemble (in the nearby Workplace gallery) to the furiously intense free jazz of Irreversible Entanglements and local artist Joseph Hillier’s thrillingly disorienting Blind Blind Blind Blind installation: sculptures bonded to four simultaneously playing vinyl copies of Talking Heads’ Blind interfere with each turntable’s stylus to create a constantly changing cacophony. The festival’s uncompromising spirit is such that comically chaotic Blackpool avant punks Ceramic Hobs – bearded men in dresses, a topless, beer-bellied singer and songs about mental health and curry sauce – are among the more conventional offerings.
“If it’s too much, earplugs are available,” says the woman welcoming anyone tiptoeing towards Otomo Yoshihide’s experiments in extreme noise, using an electric guitar and record decks. The Japanese avant garde master submits the latter to such sonic and physical assaults – pounding them with his fists – you suspect he will eventually be arrested for crimes against musical equipment. New Yorker Lea Bertucci’s experimental music is easier on the ear, but no less adventurous. She uses visuals, but her vast, spacious fusion of clarinet, sax, glitch and echo and is best experienced with eyes closed, when her pensive, beautiful noise hits like a multisensory massage.

Bertucci also helms Double Bass Crossfade, in which two upright bass players playing with bows fill the vast Sage concourse with improvised sub bass. Also from NYC, guitar/percussion duo 75 Dollar Bill channel Sun Ra, Middle Eastern and African music into mesmerically repetitive, urban desert rock. Sarah Davachi’s stellar Sunday set combines electronic hums and string players, who hold each solitary note for minutes at a time, building to a gradually evolving symphony of stillness.
Bradford’s Hameed Brothers Qawwal and Party pull one of the biggest crowds to the largest hall for a euphorically received set of Punjabi singing, dizzying tabla and percussion. A similar throng assembles for legendary minimalist composer Terry Riley, with his son Gyan. Playing piano and electric guitar, the father and son have an almost telepathic connection as they lock into the 83-year-old’s subtly jazz-influenced repetitive grooves before the younger man hurtles off into another dimension. Blasting from a symphony of Clangers-like noises to a sublime piece for melodica and guitar epitomises Tusk’s celebration of sound and possibilities.