INTERVIEW: Gallagher & Turner | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Paola Ciarksa, Untitled, gouache on board © IMT Gallery 

We’ve been planning since Christmas to really make sure it’s something special,” says Oliver Doe, gallery manager at Gallagher & Turner. “Since then things have become more complicated as we’ve been closed for months, but fortunately we’re working with people we have a good relationship with.”

Tucked away on St Mary’s Place, Gallagher & Turner has been a stalwart of the Newcastle art scene for the past 30 years. Founded in 1990 by Paul Gallagher and Clare Turner, Oliver has been working throughout lockdown to prepare for the gallery’s upcoming exhibition celebrating their 30 year anniversary.

It’s definitely been more stressful than usual,” he says. As with many other gallery spaces, the pandemic has disrupted the year’s programming. “We had to cancel our summer exhibition, which is usually one of our biggest events. But with the current situation, it just wouldn’t have been viable to showcase 37 artists,” he tells me. “Luckily we’ve been able to salvage the rest of the programme, including the 30th anniversary exhibition.”

The exhibition will showcase the work of 16 artists, including Oliver himself, who have previously had work exhibited at Gallagher & Turner. Norman Cornish, Ørnulf Opdahl and Elisabeth Frink are among those on the line-up which celebrates the gallery’s diverse history of exhibitions.

What we do isn’t about us, it’s about trying to support the artists selflessly. Being in the art world is a precarious existence, and we’re doing all we can by trying to sell artists’ work

Oliver notes that he is particularly excited about showcasing the work of Paola Ciarska, a Newcastle University fine art graduate who first exhibited at Gallagher & Turner in 2017. Paola, whose work explores the nature of oversharing in contemporary society, has had her work exhibited across Newcastle, London and New York. “We’ve been working with galleries like iMT gallery in London to borrow some of Paola’s work,” Oliver says. “It’s really nice to be working with young artists and to see how they have developed over the years.”

Despite their best efforts, the exhibition will undoubtedly be very different to Gallagher & Turner’s usual offerings. “We’re used to the gallery being a personal space,” Oliver says. “We know a lot of the people who come in, but I think coronavirus will make the space less personal.” Accepting that the situation is dependent day by day, Gallagher & Turner are working on making the website accessible, so even those who don’t yet feel comfortable going to exhibitions can celebrate at home.

Oliver is keen to stress how the gallery seeks to support the artists whose work they exhibit through the pandemic. “What we do isn’t about us, it’s about trying to support the artists selflessly. Being in the art world is a precarious existence, and we’re doing all we can by trying to sell artists’ work.” 

The gallery is also keen to draw in new audiences through the exhibition. “It’s really going to be a mixed bag of work,” Oliver says. “Claire, Paul and I all have different tastes, which is good as we don’t want things to be too homogenous. We’re trying to show a strong mix of things that doesn’t go too far towards one stagnant work.”

Gallagher & Turner’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition will take place between Thursday 20th August-Saturday 26th September

NB. Since publication, Jenny McNamara has taken over as gallery manager of Gallagher & Turner

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