Great Exhibition of the North highlights

The Great Exhibition of the North takes place from 22 June to 9 September, 80 days of amazing exhibits, live performances, displays of innovation, new artworks and magical experiences. The Exhibition 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.

Some highlights from each of the trails and hubs throughout the three months include:

Opening Weekend

  • Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (23 – 24 June, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle upon Tyne)  

This two-day event at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle offers a rare chance to buy and commission work directly from over 50 of the UK’s most talented, established and emerging artists and designer-makers. Expect ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles, print, fashion design, furniture, lighting and decorative accessories.  

  • Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras (22 – 24 June, Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne *free, ticketed*)  

Northern stand-up poet Kate Fox publicly waged ‘Lass War’ on the Northern Powerhouse when all the images and speakers for the North at a major conference seemed to be blokes in suits and hard hats. This funny, thought-provoking performance lecture uncovers the hidden history of the writers, scientists, sportswomen, politicians, protestors, musicians and other heroines who make up a far more diverse North than we usually see.  

  • Trailblazing (23 June, Multiple Streets Across the City) 

Follow the rousing voices of three choirs as they make their way along separate city centre routes before joining together in an uplifting chorus at BALTIC, Gateshead. Painting a musical picture of life in the North, the performance comprises a trio of very different choirs with passionate links to their hometowns of Manchester, Leeds and Stockton. With songs composed by Boff Whaley – formerly of pop band Chumbawamba – Trailblazing not only celebrates the diversity of the North, but also emphasises how much its regions have in common. Featuring the voices of Manchester’s all-female She Choir, the eclectic and unique sound of Leeds’ Commoners’ Choir and the all-male Infant Hercules ensemble from Stockton. 

  • 105+dB (22 - 24 June, Performance Square, Sage Gateshead) 

Experience the North’s passion for football like never before when this artwork transports the unmistakable sound of our stadiums into the streets. The interactive piece harnesses the incredible wall of noise and energy found on five football terraces and recreates the unique sonic architecture of the crowds in new places.  

Get North Innovation Trail

  • Self-Build Utopias (Full Run, Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Each week at Northern Stage different artists will create exhibitions, installations and performances that imagine a more creative, sustainable and fun future. Artists involved include: Third Angel, Northern Stage’s Young Company, Simone Ferracina and Pierangelo Scravaglieri, Unfolding Theatre, 154 Collective, Hannah Fox and Sonia Hughes.

  • Multiverse Arcade (Full Run, The Gate/Mining Institute/Sage Gateshead/Northumbria Uni/Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Uncover secret messages on an interactive mission that leads to the Multiverse Arcade – a headquarters of ideas at the Mining Institute. Explore a space full of young people’s thoughts on how to change the world. This playful, empowering and thought-provoking event is created by Unfolding Theatre, Young Writers’ City at Excelsior Academy and Queen’s Hall Youth Theatre.

  • LEGO® Timeline of Northern Innovation (Full Run, Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Local LEGO® artist Steve Mayes tells the story of Northern innovation in over 40 intricate models, using 50,000 plastic bricks. The 3D timeline features everything from Stephenson’s Rocket and Rolls Royce to graphene, gaming and the Great North Run. Check out Steve’s interpretation and add to the story in the maker space by creating your own models.  

  • Horse to Hyperloop: the Evolution of Design (Full Run, Cooper’s Studios, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

A journey into the world of transport, technology and design. Become a city architect for the day by designing an imaginary bridge over the River Tyne for Hyperloop – the revolutionary travel system that could propel you between Newcastle and Manchester in just 20 minutes.   

  • It’s Rocket Science (Full Run, Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Robert Stephenson’s iconic steam locomotive Rocket returns to Tyneside, on loan from the Science Museum Group. Find out how this historic engine’s ground-breaking design heralded the birth of passenger railways and celebrate the region’s world-famous industrial heritage. Also, travel back to 1829 via virtual reality to experience the sight and sound of the early steam age as we bring Stephenson’s Rocket back to life. Join us for a fully immersive and memorable experience by Northern tech masters Hedgehog Lab.

  • The Hexagon Experiment (Various venues, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Women take centre stage in this six-part series of Friday night experiments celebrating the North’s explosive creativity and revolutionary history. Featuring collaborations between six artists and six scientists, the Hexagon Experiment will shine a light on the contribution made by women in science and the arts. Brought to you by creative music charity Brighter Sound and the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester.  

  • Daughters of Fortune (Times Square, Live Theatre and Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Join the conversation and help bring about change with this bold project exploring learning disability and parenthood. This complex subject is explored in a series of surprising and challenging experiences at venues across the North. Expect large-scale photographic exhibitions, films, theatre performances, public workshops and mass quilt making. It is the work of Bradford’s Mind the Gap, England’s largest learning disability theatre company, which has been touring acclaimed productions around the world for 30 years.

  • Deepframe – World’s Largest Mixed Reality Display (Full Run, Various venues, Newcastle upon Tyne)

A series of incredible immersive experiences blending the virtual world with the real environment at key locations around the city. Brought to you by North East immersive studio Animmersion, the Great Exhibition of the North is Deepframe’s premiere in the UK. Its unique immersive experiences can be found at key locations around the city.

  • Robots – Then and Now (26 May – 2 December, Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, Associate Event)

Come up close to our ongoing quest to reimagine ourselves as machines with this fascinating, family-friendly exhibition. This work-in-progress story of building robots will take you from 16th Century mechanical automatons to some unsettling humanoids that will make you question what it means to be human. Associate event (ticket fee applies).

Get North Design Trail

  • The Northern Design Quest (Full Run, Full Route – Starting at Great North Museum, Northumbria University Campus, Newcastle City Library, Toffee Factory and ending at Northern Design Centre, Gateshead) 

Products, brands and beautiful objects feature heavily in our everyday lives but have you ever stopped to think about how they were designed? Join us on a journey through the design process that allows you to be the creative and your product to be the end result. En route you’ll learn about identifying user needs, exploring ideas, testing product concepts and creating a brand identity. Finally showcase your creation in the Northern Design Centre alongside iconic Northern products including Meccano, the electric light bulb and the Barbour wax jacket. Experience as the final stop on the Exhibition’s Design Trail or as a standalone event.  

  • design | innovate | craft (3 June – 31 August, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Get stuck into the world of contemporary crafts with this major exhibition and series of spin-off activities. As well as showcasing the talent of design-makers in the North, design | innovate | craft will bring out the creativity in you. Championing new approaches within the world of craft, the show presents accessible pieces to live with or wear. It features makers who’ve been handpicked for their innovative use of materials, application, method or presentation. Work for sale across a range of disciplines includes furniture, ceramics, jewellery and printmaking. Creative workshops, talks and seminars then provide lots of opportunities for you to get involved.  

  • Winged Tales of the North (Full Run, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Follow this playful and imaginative street art trail inspired by new flash fiction by David Almond – one of the North’s best-loved writers. As you’re led through the creative community of the Ouseburn Valley, you’ll discover a series of intriguing works showcasing the talent of artists, designers and makers from across the area. Admire stunning murals, marvel at new temporary sculptures and engage with artworks that spark curiosity and invite exploration. This visual and literary treat for the whole family is presented by Seven Stories and curated by artist Kate Drummond.  

  • How will you fly? (Full Run, digital download) 

Create your own wing designs on friends and family and share through social media with this digital augmented reality experience. You can then share your designs with them and others through social media, whilst exploring the vast library of wings created by other Exhibition visitors and artists. Designed by MAADIGITAL, the How Will You Fly? app is available at IOS and Android app stores and runs alongside the Winged Tails of the North Trail.

  • REVEAL (Full Run, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

View the work of up and coming creative talent from Northumbria University’s award-winning creative programmes in this annual showcase. Each year the university produces a wealth of creative graduates who have developed their skills under the watchful eye of experts in the field including artists, filmmakers and ground-breaking designers. This is your chance to gain a sneak preview of exciting new work spanning programmes as diverse as animation and architecture to fashion and fine art.

  • 1up North (2 July – 15 July, Computer Information Sciences Building at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne - free but ticketed)

The video games industry is now recognised as a highly innovative part of the UK’s creative economy and unbeknownst to many, the North of England has long been the driving force of a thriving hub of Video Game and XR development. Join us as we celebrate the greatest games created in the North of England, learn about the industry, meet the developers and play the games, experience everything from retro classics to cutting-edge Virtual reality titles. 1up North will be filled with booths from major game publishers and independent developers.

Get North Art Trail

  • Life in a Northern Town (Full Run *closed 16 – 20 July + 13 – 17 August, Carliol House, The NewBridge Project: Gateshead)   

Experience life in the North from the perspective of some of the North’s hottest new artists. Emerging and early-career artists turn their attention to exploring what makes the North distinctive when it comes to life, work and play. Life in a Northern Town celebrates some of the most exciting artist-led organisations from across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle, exploring their inventive approaches and DIY models of working.  

  • About the North: Imagined Dialogues (Full Run, Side Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Some of this country’s most compelling documentary has been about the North of England. Explore the role it plays – both as conversation with communities and arguments with power – in this exhibition of major historical and contemporary photography. Find out how the people captured on film by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen now feel about her iconic images, featuring their lives in the 1970s terraces of Newcastle’s East End before demolition made way for the Byker Wall Estate. Drawing on Side Gallery’s own extraordinary collections as well as other key works, you’ll delve into a tradition that continues to shape perceptions of the wider North.  

  • intu’s Little Black Graphene Dress (Full Run, intu Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Witness a fashion and science breakthrough – the world’s smartest and toughest little black dress. Made from a ‘miracle material’ discovered by scientists in Manchester, this unique dress changes colour and design in response to the wearer’s breathing, using tiny LED lights. At just one atom thick, graphene is a million times thinner than human hair, is stronger than steel and conducts electricity better than anything else known to humankind.

  • every thing every time (Full Run, Outside Theatre Royal Plinth, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

What stories can be uncovered from a city using the data generated by its visitors, residents and workers? Created by Future Everything in Manchester, every thing every time takes information from our interactions to tell a new story about the people and places of Newcastle. Watch how the daily data measuring fluctuations including weather, traffic and travel is used to generate a poem that’s written in real time and displayed on a mechanical display. 

  • Glenn Brown (16 June – 21 October, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Immerse yourself in the powerful – and sometimes unsettling – world of Hexham-born Glenn Brown and find out why he has become one of the most renowned British artists practising today. Brown is famed for manipulating images from historic masterpieces, changing their shape, size and colour. The figures in his painting are often grotesque yet fascinating. Among the artists he references are Fragonard, Dali and the North East’s own John Martin, famed for his dramatic landscapes. Brown will premiere a series of works created especially for the exhibition – and will delve into the Laing’s collection to present some of his favourite pieces. This exhibition is generously supported by the Contemporary Art Society’s Great Works Scheme, the Sfumato Foundation and the Friends of the Laing Art Gallery. 

  • We Are Where We Are (15 June – 21 October, BALTIC 39, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Presented by Liverpool Biennial with BALTIC, We Are Where We Are is a dark place. Works will be in, underneath and between treated walls. Delve deeply into this intriguing exhibition and discover new and existing works by 11 talented artists from the North of England. They are: Simeon Barclay, Jacqueline Bebb, Lindsey Bull, Robert Carter & Lauren Velvick, Nina Chua, Matthew Crawley, Frances Disley, Daniel Fogarty, Harry Meadley and Stephen Sheehan. The show and programme are the work of Liverpool Biennial Associate Artists.  

  • Sagacity: Periodic Table of Emotions (Full Run, intu Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Make your mood known on this interactive installation designed to reflect the emotional state of the North. Tweet your feelings or your response to an event during the Exhibition. Then watch how you light up the display as it takes a measure of the ever-changing emotions of the Exhibition’s audience. Artist Aidan Moesby created the Periodic Table of Emotions to categorise, colour-code and give emotional weight to these feelings. See how the elements on the table glow brighter according to how the North is feeling and watch the emotional outlook shift throughout the day. 

  • Delicate Shuttle (Full Run, Newcastle City Library, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Discover this delicate installation of white poplar leaves and pause for a moment to reflect on the experiences of natural and human migration it represents. Using the white poplar leaf, which holds many meanings across cultures, Delicate Shuttle captures the collective experience of migratory movement. It reflects our relationship with the world, place, landscape and each other.

Across NewcastleGateshead

  • Family Expo (2 - 15 August, St James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Our Family Expo is a fantastic way to spend some quality time together and get involved in some exciting activities. Join us at the home of Newcastle United between 2 – 9 August to enjoy eight days dedicated to inventing, playing and tinkering with ideas. The Family Expo is a chance for them to begin to explore the part they might play in the North of tomorrow. To experience our themes of innovation, design and art in a new way – a way that relates directly to their lives and future opportunities. Activities are ideal for children aged seven to 14 but younger children will enjoy them too with a little help from the grown-ups.

  • Aeons: A Sound Journey for Newcastle (Full Run (not Sundays), Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne) 

Head over to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, grab some headphones then set off along the riverside with a world of sound in your ears. Songs and stories of the river – old and new – will draw you along the bank of the Tyne with stirring pieces from Opera North, accordion wizard Martin Green of folk trio Lau, and singer Becky Unthank. A series of sensors trigger each sound section, linking you and the music to the landscapes and history around you. 

  • Remake a Take (Full Run, Tyneside Cinema, St Nicholas Cathedral, Central Station, Sage Gateshead, Live Theatre, Dance City, Northern Stage, Ouseburn Farm and Times Square)

From Blade Runner to Brief Encounter, the North has inspired generations of audiences and filmmakers. Get behind the scenes of these famous films with a host of hands-on activities. Follow the Remake a Take movie trail to hunt out a series of interactive film stills featuring scenes from the likes of Get Carter, Harry Potter and 24 Hour Party People. 

  • Steve Messam - Whistle (Full Run, Around the City Walls, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Listen out for the evocative sound of steam engine whistles once again echoing through the streets of Newcastle. At precisely 1pm each day during the Exhibition, a sequence of locomotive whistles will reverberate around the edge of the city, drawing an audible line along the medieval town wall. The sound installation is designed to recall the role of the North in engineering and the invention of the railway, sparking memories and forging links between past and present.

  • MESH by Vanessa Grasse (22 June – 15 July, Weekends Only, Newcastle City Centre: Performance Square)

Look out for a large group of people weaving through the streets! Follow them and join them for as long or as little as you like to watch and create self-organising formations responding to the surroundings. They’re a group of group of 10 professional dancers joined by local residents and passers-by. The idea is to explore how group choreography can offer an experience of togetherness. MESH re-imagines new forms of public collective presence and explores the importance of experiencing interdependence in response to our divisive global political climate.


Sage Gateshead

  • Lauren Laverne’s Great Northern Soundtrack (22 June – 1 July) 

Indulge in some of the best musical talent to come from the North in a week of gigs curated by Sunderland-born Lauren Laverne. The line-up includes:

  • Nightmares on Wax + Skinny Pelembe (22 June)
  • The Great Northern All Star Band feat Field Music (23 June)
  • Vessels + Tom Ravenscroft (23 June)
  • Mr Drayton’s Record Player (23 – 30 June)
  • Nadine Shah + Rafiki Jazz (24 June)
  • PINS + She Drew the Gun (25 June)
  • Roisin Murphy (29 June)
  • World HeadQuarters feat. Voices of Virtue (29 June)
  • LEVELZ (30 June)
  • BBC Music Introducing (30 June)
  • Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening + Rachel Unthank & Paul Smith + Jim Ghedi (1 July)
  • Parental Guidance Party feat. Paul Smith (1 July)
  • Mark Fell Protomusic #1 (Full Run)  

Take a walk through Sage Gateshead and hear how this captivating sound installation weaves throughout the building, transforming the public spaces. Created by Rotherham artist Mark Fell, Protomusic #1 fills the impressive interior with sonic structures based on real world sounds from the North. 

  • Bridges (Full Run)  

Settle down to enjoy this magical tale following the journey of a man, a dog and their small fishing boat on the River Tyne. This animated, musical adventure sees the characters overcome a series of challenges as they navigate the waters and seven bridges of the Tyne. Created by musician Ed Carter and writer Katie Simmons, it features animation from Newcastle creative studio NOVAK and music performed by Royal Northern Sinfonia. 

  • Young People’s Programme (25 – 30 June)

A range of performances and activities especially for young people. In Harmony Newcastle Gateshead is 6 and to celebrate, young musicians from West Newcastle, In Harmony Opera North and Liverpool will perform a piece of music specially commissioned for Great Exhibition of the North. Sage Gateshead’s CoMusica programme presents a day of performances by young people experiencing challenging circumstances and some of the region’s most brilliant performers with additional needs host the Music Spark Show, showcasing creative diversity in our local communities. There will also be Concourse performances by school children, youth groups, choirs and musical ensembles and a Gala Performance by young musicians from across the whole region.

  • The Marriage of Figaro; Royal Northern Sinfonia and Nevill Holt Opera (4 and 6 July)   

Figaro wants his bride, but so does his master. With the help of the rejected Countess, can Figaro and Susanna outwit the philandering Count before the day is up? Mozart’s joyful masterpiece pirouettes its way through a day of madness at the palace. Join us for a brand-new production of Mozart’s most popular opera by Royal Northern Sinfonia and Nevill Holt Opera.  

  • RNS Sampler (7 July)  

New to classical music or interested in branching out? Spend a free day with Royal Northern Sinfonia sampling orchestral and instrumental works from the last 400 years. Join the North East’s international chamber orchestra on a fun, accessible, guided tour of musical history. Baroque, Classical, Modern, Romantic and Chamber concerts are spaced throughout the day, giving the opportunity to dip in and out, or come for the full day’s experience. Ever wondered what made Mozart different from Bach and Tchaikovsky? And distinguish Górecki from Errollyn Wallen? No idea where to start? This day is designed for you.

  • Well Tuned (8 July)  

Well Tuned is a celebration of the depth of skills and experience of people over the age of 50 in the North of England, and aims to highlight the positive effects of music and wellbeing. This special event will feature a whole host of fun free performances, a large-scale mass sing along, a participant led percussion workshop and exhibitors presenting health and wellbeing information as well as the wide-range of activities on offer for people in this age group. There will be performances from a huge array of groups playing an eclectic mix of genres, styles and instruments. The performances will highlight the amazing level of ability and skill amongst the participants.

  • Folk on the Tyne (28 July)  

The Unthanks, The Wilsons and The Young’uns headline at this full day festival of folk at Sage Gateshead. Jam-packed with gigs, ceilidhs and workshops, Folk on the Tyne is dedicated to showcasing the best folk music the North has to offer. Highlights include a free, late night ceilidh and a giant performance from our Folkworks Summer Schools musicians. Free workshops and performances across the day will provide plenty of further opportunities to celebrate the wealth of Northern folk music. 

  • Summer Studio (6 - 26 August)  

This summer, Sage Gateshead is opening up its studio spaces for free short residencies to allow artists to create new work or hone their talent. Artists will get the chance to access advice from music professionals, record a demo and even have a photoshoot. They’ll also be invited to perform in the only dodecahedron-shaped concert space in the UK, to an audience of members of the music industry plus friends and family.  

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

In the Gallery

  • Lubaina Himid, Our Kisses are Petals (Exhibition: 11 May – 30 September / Offsite commission: 22 June – 30 September, Baltic Square) 

Explore the work of Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid. The Preston-based artist transports the bright, graphic patterns of East African fabrics into BALTIC to transform its spaces. Himid’s art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities. She uses the colourful kanga cloth – traditionally worn in East Africa – as a recurring motif throughout her work. Himid’s vibrant art spills from the indoor gallery space on to the public concourse and comes to life in a programme of free Sunday events aimed at bringing together creative communities.  

  • Michael Dean (22 June – 30 September) 

Michael Dean returns to his native North East to produce a major new commission for BALTIC. Newcastle-born Dean is known for his immersive sculptural installations exploring language, intimacy and the politics of being in the world. He starts his work with his writing – which he then gives physical form. He creates casts and moulds of words, distorting them into an alphabet of human-scale shapes. Dean uses instantly recognisable materials such as concrete, sand and corrugated metal to demonstrate, and in some instances, literally spell out the writing that inspires the piece. See how the Turner Prize-nominated artist responds to BALTIC’s vast Level 3 gallery.  

  • Phil Collins, Ceremony (22 June – 30 September) 

Witness the return of Friedrich Engels to Manchester – in the form of a Soviet-era statue – in a film documenting its journey across Europe and installation in the city. Last year Turner Prize-nominated artist Phil Collins set out on a mission to bring Engels home to the city where he made his name. It was in Manchester that Engels wrote the key socialist texts that led to him co-authoring The Communist Manifesto with friend Karl Marx. Collins’ film follows the statue’s remarkable journey and Manchester’s response to its homecoming. Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, HOME, Manchester and Manchester International Festival. 

  • Idea of North (11 May – 30 September)  

Explore Northern imagination and identity with this celebration of architecture, photography, music, design and culture. From within a series of pavilions and architectural constructions spanning BALTIC’s vast Level 4, you’ll discover some of reasons the North has earned its global reputation for resilience and resurgence. Delve into architectural feats of imagination from the past, present and future. Experience Hadrian’s Wall like never before using computer gaming visuals and film. Consider the representation of women in the North East with a major exhibition curated by celebrated photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen. You’ll even get a glimpse of the underground music scene of Gateshead and the little-known cave rave scene of the 1990s.  

  • Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan (Full Run) 

A series of sculptural faces built into the internal walls of BALTIC are the focus of this site-specific commission. They speak a text that weaves together a narrative of the 18th Century Newcastle-born radical Thomas Spence, and his anti-power satirical motifs, into the contemporary context of BALTIC and an event like Great Exhibition of the North.

Outdoor commissions

  • Ryan Gander, To Give Light (Northern Aspirational Charms) (22 June – 28 August, Baltic Square, Gateshead) 

This commission comprises ten black concrete sculptures, each depicting an object originally designed to emit light with a historical link to the North of England. These include the first incandescent light bulb, developed by Joseph Swan and the ‘Geordie lamp’, invented by George Stephenson. Arranged in a circular configuration, each sculpture is complete with a section of mooring chain, referencing the maritime history of the River Tyne.

  • The Worker’s Maypole (Full Run, Grey’s Monument)

Witness the transformation of Grey’s Monument as it is turned into a huge, colourful maypole, in tribute to the North’s achievements and feats for equality. The installation by Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich will take place in the heart of Newcastle, upon the monument to Earl Grey, the Northumberland-born Prime Minister whose work paved the way for a fairer society. Get involved with the live parade with swirling sword dancers, traditional Northumbrian folk music and a mesmerising display of maypole dancing as the monument is wrapped in gigantic coloured ribbons.

  • Suspended Island (Full Run, Live Garden, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Uncover a lost urban geography as Jane and Louise Wilson’s video installation examines relationships between the architecture and history of the Quayside and its connection with the wider world. The Live Theatre gardens provide the perfect setting for this atmospheric installation that weaves together film footage, songs, interviews and reclaimed structures to tell this challenging story.

  • Tim Etchells, With/Against (22 June – 28 August, Gateshead Quays) 

Tim Etchells’ innovative site-specific work looks out across the River Tyne, catching the attention of all those who come into its view. Explore your own knowledge of language with this high-tech installation which playfully expands on our understanding of local dialect and phrases. The sculpture With/Against is the latest in Etchells’ substantial body of neon and LED text works, which have been shown in public contexts all over the world. 

Great North Museum

  • Which Way North (Full Run)

A visually bold, theatrical takeover of the Great North Museum which will take you on a memorable journey to experience the revolutionary North under one roof. This museum-wide exhibition is inspired by ‘The Blazing World’, one of the earliest works of Science Fiction published in 1668 by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. Discover stories that take you to space with Helen Sharman, along Cumbrian valleys with Postman Pat, to the early days of Pop Art in Newcastle with Richard Hamilton, the last days of Liverpool’s John Lennon and to gaze upon George Stubbs’ world famous portrait of the Yorkshire racehorse Whistlejacket. 

Themes for the exhibition include:

  • Which Way North (Introduction, setting the scene and getting ready for the journey) 

Tool up, pack your bag, pick your transport and get ready to experience the revolutionary North like never before. Step through the portal and prepare to embark on an adventure that will change perspectives and perceptions…‘Where is the North?’ you’ll be asked before you step over the threshold on a quest to find out. You’re about to see, hear and understand on a whole new level the ways the North’s big imagination has impacted on the world we live in. Campaign mode set. Activate the avatar. Get your game on. Let’s play.  

  • Journey into the Blazing World

The vivid imagination of the Duchess of Newcastle inspires your journey. She wrote the Blazing World in 1668, one of the first works of science fiction. It’s a story about a fantastic world where different people live in peace side by side, embracing the possibilities of invention, art, travel and science.

  • To the Moon and Back 

Your mission to the real North begins in the stars. Prepare to be amazed by art, artefacts and objects that shed light on the frontiers explored by the North’s pioneering spirits. Exhibits take their lead from Sheffield-born Helen Sharman’s iconic spacesuit, worn when she became the first British astronaut and first woman to visit the Mir space station. The title To the Moon and Back is taken from the best-selling children’s book Guess How Much I Love You, illustrated by Anita Jeram while she was a student in Manchester. It challenges you to delve deep into the potential of imagination, possibility and the fantastic. 

  • Buried Treasures: In an Octopus’s Garden 

After the pioneers came the settlers. Your exploration takes on a more intimate scale on this next stop of your journey. Here you’ll explore our human need to create safe havens and to surround ourselves with precious objects, keepsakes and family. Buried treasures, shiny things, prizes and trophies are gathered together. Some have had a big impact by inspiring people to greatness and others are rewards for their endeavours. In this secret hideaway are the seemingly insignificant, often overlooked, material fragments of everyday life. The title is taken from Ringo Starr’s humorous song of the same name.  

  • This Kingdom Called Home 

Imagine a department store that caters not only for your needs and desires but also your cultural experiences. You’ve just found it. This emporium – an arcade of theatre and entertainment – is fully stocked with art, electronics, fashion, homeware, social innovations and medical breakthroughs. New innovations designed to improve community and economy sit side-by-side with new trends in household goods and gadgets. Browse the unexpected and the quirky, the inexpensive and the luxurious and hang out in a mall made by the North’s great minds.  

  • Human Machine Motion

Human motion is at the centre of this exhilarating exploration. Motion of the body, movement through travel and flights of imagination and immigration all inspire your experience. Discover iconic works, people and big ideas that show artists thinking like scientists, mathematicians as philosophers and humans as elite machines. There’s art in the engineering. And engineering in the art. This space takes its lead from artist Richard Hamilton’s 1955 artwork, Man, Machine and Motion.

Image of opening weekend water sculpture by EYELEVEL.


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