For members of the thriving Newcastle arts scene, Norham House on New Bridge Street has always been a uniquely supportive starting point. Established in 2010 by graduates Will Marshall and Will Strong, the Newbridge Project group have since provided an almost maternal service to like-minded emerging artists, ensuring that they have everything they need to kick-start a bountiful career without having to migrate towards the blinding city lights of London or Manchester. Following the announcement that the current premises of the artist-led community space is set to be demolished, the past few weeks have seen a wealth of wondrous events celebrating the legacy of the office block-turned gallery.
When speaking to director Charlotte Gregory – the main brain behind the operation since 2013 – it becomes abundantly clear that one thing transcends all others in terms of the project’s resounding legacy: a passion for local artists. “When we graduated, there weren’t many places for artists who were starting out,” She explains. “A lot of artists would leave the region to pursue careers in London, Manchester or Glasgow – NewBridge has changed that. Now, more and more artists are staying in Newcastle to develop their arts careers here, creating a vibrant DIY arts scene in the city and encouraging many other initiatives and groups to set up their own projects. I think we’ve really demonstrated the need for artist-led, grassroots and independent spaces in the city, and the important role they play alongside larger more established galleries.”
As an affordable space that allows artists to exhibit their work in virtually any medium, the building has played host to quite a few memorable shows over the years: notable NewBridge alumni include Taryn Edmonds, Maria Ferrie, Hal Branson (of Hot Gulp fame) and Rowan Mills. For Charlotte, though, the highlights are pretty hard to pin down. “It’s amazing to be able to play such an important role in helping develop artists’ careers: there have been so many memorable exhibitions and events. A recent highlight was our Hidden Civil War programme – a month-long festival of events in October with over 90 artists/activists. It included commissions across 12 public sites, such as Darren Cullen’s Pocket Money Loans shop on Northumberland Street and large photo paste ups by international collective, Dysturb.”
Thankfully, the group plan to continue this valuable work from their new premises. “Our new home will be in Carliol House, which is just around the corner on Market Street. We are very lucky to have found a new building which is so central and can accommodate all of our studio artists, as well as hopefully some new ones. As for the NewBridge Bookshop and Project Space, we’re still looking for some different spaces.”
Events at their current venue are scheduled to come to an end this month – but they’re not going out without a bang. With work adorning every inch of the building, Saturday 4th March will be your final chance to see the work of over 80 artists before a Newbridge ‘Leavers Disco’ is set to take art lovers and artists alike into the early hours.