Great Exhibition of the North Programme Revealed

27th Feb, 2018

A Great Northern Soundtrack curated by broadcaster, Lauren Laverne; the return of Stephenson’s Rocket, complete with virtual reality experience; and a new solo exhibition from Turner Prize 2017 winner, Lubaina Himid, are just some of the highlights of Great Exhibition of the North, which today (27 February) unveiled its 80-day programme.

Millions of people will get the chance to see the best in Northern creativity from pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton to world-renowned sculptor Antony Gormley; live performances from artists such as Roisin Murphy and Kaiser Chiefs; the original character models of Postman Pat; the story of Graphene told through next generation lighting to the world’s most high-tech little black dress and much, much more.

The Exhibition will be the biggest event in England this year. It is free to attend and will tell the inspiring story of the North of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future. Hosted in NewcastleGateshead, on behalf of Northern England, the event is expected to reach an audience of three million people, including more than one million visitors from across the UK and overseas.

The presence of the Great Exhibition of the North means that there’s never been a more exciting time to host a conference or event in NewcastleGateshead, with the city set to be the stage for the iconic event.

Paul Szomoru, Head of Business Events at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “Great Exhibition of the North – the first and only event of its kind –  offers the perfect incentive for organisers to bring their event to NewcastleGateshead this summer. Not only is the destination going to be buzzing with a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere that will make an exciting backdrop for any event, but it also allows organisers to align their conference within the themes of art and culture, design or innovation, incorporating relevant elements of the Exhibition into their own event programme.

In addition, we always talk about the unique delegate experiences on offer here and this gives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for delegates to enjoy a dazzling experience they won’t forget.”

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The North is a hotbed of creativity, with a proud history of innovators, businesses and artists that have shaped how we live today. Not only will the Exhibition showcase this incredible diversity, it will also boost tourism and deliver growth to the region. It will celebrate what makes the North such a fantastic place to live, visit, and invest in.

Sir Gary Verity, Chairman of Great Exhibition of the North, said: “As well as being a showcase for some of the best creative and inspiring talent from the North of England, our diverse programme tells a pioneering story and one that will help change the way the world views the North. Whether you have a love of arts and design, cutting-edge culture, history and innovation, inspired technology or vibrant street performance – there is something in this programme to intrigue and excite those of all ages and from all backgrounds.”

Visitors will begin their journey at one of three iconic venues – Great North Museum, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead – before joining three interconnected trails through 30 world-class venues and public spaces on either side of the River Tyne that celebrate the North’s achievements in art and culture, design, and innovation.

The Great North Museum will open its doors with ‘Which Way North’, a visual experience which introduces the wider Exhibition and a display of iconic Northern objects.

BALTIC will display artist Ryan Gander’s pared down sculptures depicting objects that symbolise innovation born in the North of England; commissions from artists such as Jane and Louise Wilson, Michael Dean and Tim Etchells; and a maquette of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.

Sage Gateshead will curate a great Northern summer of music, filled with concerts, festivals and family activity featuring cutting-edge artists such as Nightmares on Wax and classical concerts from Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The Great Exhibition of the North is backed by over £5 million of Government funding and is an example of how the Industrial Strategy is helping to drive growth across the region and promote the innovative businesses and economy of the Northern Powerhouse. 

The Exhibition will open on 22 June and will run under the headline theme ‘Get North’. As part of the opening event, visitors will experience the UK’s largest water sculpture from the Quayside, a brand new film about a journey across the North of England, performances from Kaiser Chiefs and a live presentation by Lemn Sissay of his newly created anthem for the North. The inaugural evening will also bring together art, design, culture and innovation and will reveal content that will be present throughout the 80-day exhibition.

On 9 September, the world’s largest half marathon, the Great North Run, will form the centrepiece of the closing weekend.

Alongside the programme, other elements include entertaining and informative activities for families and a Business Summit to celebrate Northern innovation.

The Great Exhibition of the North is expected to bring a £184 million boost to the North East, showing how cultural investment can benefit and inspire entire communities.


The Innovation Trail

This trail epitomises the inventive spirit of the North, celebrating the Northern innovation stories of today and tomorrow and how it continues to shape the world we live in. Key highlights include;

- The Great North Little Inventors 2030 Challenge (Discovery Museum) – Children aged 4-12 are being challenged via the Great Exhibition of the North website to imagine life in the North in 2030 and share their ideas (by 16 March). The most ingenious invention ideas will be turned into reality by Magnificent Makers and exhibited in the Discovery Museum.

- Brick This, Lego® Architects (Mining Institute) – A 3D Innovation Timeline of the North, featuring iconic items such as Stephenson’s Rocket, graphene and the Great North Run.

- Future Homes (Science Central) – Step into the ‘home of the future’ to experience new technologies that will help provide supportive homes for anyone at any life-stage.

- Graphene Lighting (Lit & Phil) – Follow the Northern story of Joseph Swan’s light bulb invention to the innovative use of graphene in modern-age lighting.

- Horse to Hyperloop (Cooper’s Studio – Ryder Architecture) – The story of transport from the birth of railways to the future of travel.


The Arts Trail

This trail will explore the rich arts landscape of NewcastleGateshead from the Theatre Royal and Laing Art Gallery to the more recent arrivals of BALTIC and Sage Gateshead. Key highlights include;

- Future Everything with the Urban Observatory (outside Theatre Royal) – Cutting-edge technology will meet creative writing, in the form of a poem on display that refreshes every minute, telling the story of the city.

- Opera North’s Aeons (Gateshead Millennium Bridge) – Listeners can travel the route of the River Tyne, listening to the musical landscape of the North which will change and evolve from one section to the next (pre-booking essential).

- Mind the Gap’s Daughter of Fortune (Venue TBC) – Combining art and science to explore real experiences of learning disability and parenthood through exhibitions and performances.

- The New Bridge Project’s Life in a Northern Town (Carliol House and Gateshead High Street) – 10 emerging Northern artists will create unique exhibitions about how the North works, lives and plays.


The Design Trail

This trail covers the Northumbria University design campus, Seven Stories - The National Centre for Children’s Books, The Biscuit Factory and the Northern Design Centre. Key highlights include;

- The Northern Design Quest (Great North Museum through to Northern Design Centre along the Ouseburn Valley) – A design challenge engaging visitors in idea generation, research, storyboarding and prototyping process.

- Winged Tales of the North (Ouseburn Valley) – A playful and imaginative street art trail inspired by one of the North’s best-loved children’s writers, David Almond.

- design|innovate|craft (The Biscuit Factory) – Get involved in creative workshops, talks and seminars that celebrate contemporary craft and design-makers from across Northern England.

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