Friday 6 April will see the launch of the new BALTIC 39, cultural hub for contemporary art, located on High Bridge in the heart of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The building will house a new public gallery programmed by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 32 artists’ studios and a new home for fine art students from Northumbria University’s Department of Art and Social Sciences.The building will bring together opportunities for training, creativity and exhibitions, offering a unique centre of artistic excellence, development and experimentation. It will act as a magnet to draw artists from across the world for teaching, residencies and exhibitions. It is this distinct and unparalleled range of services and opportunities which makes BALTIC 39 such an exciting addition to the region’s rich cultural offer. This exciting venture is a collaboration between Newcastle City Council, Arts Council England, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University. The conversion of the former Ward’s printing warehouse and Grade II listed building at 39 High Bridge Street will be home to a vibrant community of practising artists. The building will house a new public gallery programmed by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 33 artists’ studios and a new home for fine art students from Northumbria University’s Department of Art and Social Sciences.
Cllr Henri Murison, Cabinet Member for Quality of Life, Newcastle City Council, said; “This groundbreaking partnership between a world class academic institution and an internationally renowned contemporary arts organisation will enhance Newcastle’s growing status as a unique centre for cultural and creative industries, promote the North East as a place of creativity and innovation for a new generation of artists. “This is the result of four major organisations – the City Council, the Arts Council, BALTIC and Northumbria University– working together to give the city and the region a powerful new voice on the cultural stage, and I am glad that despite the challenges in the past High Bridge now has a very promising future. “
BALTIC 39 was created from an existing six story warehouse building built in 1905. The structure of the building was largely preserved, with the introduction of three modern interventions, although the building has been designed to retain its original industrial feel. The architectural concept for the building was created by Austrian Architects, Jabornegg & Palffy, with detailed design by the Newcastle office of Atkins Global. The Structural Engineer was White Young Green. Newcastle City Council provided the Mechanical and Electrical design and the overall Project Management was undertaken by JPM Consultants. The main contractor was Rok Building Ltd.
Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director, Arts Council England said, “BALTIC 39 is a testament to the tenacity and aspiration of collaborative working in the city and the region. A pioneering approach to partnership between public, cultural and academic institutions has resulted in a nationally significant visual arts facility, developing both artists and practice. At times this has been a long journey for the Arts Council and our partners – but we’ve ended up in a very exciting place” The creative vision and administration of the top floor of BALTIC 39 will be managed by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. BALTIC project space will offer artists and guest curators creative freedom to experiment and innovate, enabling them to stretch the boundaries of contemporary art practice.
BALTIC’s reputation and recognition for responding to artists’ creative ambitions with the highest levels of technical presentation will attract the most exciting practitioners to BALTIC 39, ensuring that this gallery not only develops a loyal public audience but also quickly gains the attention of the wider visual arts sector. The first exhibition, opening to the public on Friday 6 April at 12 noon, will be curated by internationally recognised and Newcastle-born sculptor Phyllida Barlow. The exhibition explores the creative journey, investigating the processes an artist navigates in the act of making, prioritising such moments over the completed object or final outcome. Including the work of 12 UK-based artists, with practices spanning performance, sculpture, drawing, photography, film-making and writing, work will be both made and shown in a setting that demands the reconsideration of an artwork’s centre. Within this arena the audience will be able to share, test and understand the performative complexities of a work’s production.
BALTIC Director Godfrey Worsdale adds: “BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art has, over the past ten years established itself amongst the UK’s most ambitions institutions for the presentation and interpretation of international contemporary art. This partnership with Newcastle City Council, Northumbria University and Arts Council England, will enable BALTIC to embed those ambitions in a new and experimental context. The new gallery space will enable exhibiting artists from all over the world to bring their work and ideas into a context that is also home to academic practice-based research and over 30 professional artists’ studios. With these component parts, its is hard to imagine how BALTIC 39 would not contribute something special to contemporary art in the UK and particularly to the North East’s burgeoning cultural community and creative economy”.
BALTIC 39, 31–39 High Bridge Street, Newcastle upon-Tyne NE1 1EW FREE ADMISSION Opens Friday 6 April 2012 Opening hours: Wed–Sun 12.00–18.00 except Thu 12.00-20.00