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Lumen - Sutapa Biswas, 2021
Lumen - Sutapa Biswas, 2021

Shockingly we’ve been in the North East for over four months now and last weekend was our first visit to The Baltic since our move. I had no idea what the current exhibitions were so wandered up the floors until I hit something of interest.

Floor 3 currently has a fascinating exhibition by multi-media artist Sutapa Biswas (who I knew nothing about until I walked into the gallery). But it pushed a lot of my buttons (film, paintings, birds, India).

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a 30 minute film “Lumen” that is a reflection on colonialism, migration, partition, upheaval and lots of themes that I probably didn’t pick up on - it’s a beautifully filmed and framed monolgue interspersed with archive footage of India’s colonial past.

My mum grew up in pre- and post-colonial India, coming to the UK in 1950 - so it was hard for me to not imagine the monologue being delievered by her. I have no idea if the experiences of the Biswas family bore any relation to that of my mum’s - but can’t believe that the sort of emotional and geographic upheaval both went through didn’t have some similarity.

Lumen (clip, 2021) - Sutapa Biswas

The exhibition has other works - and my more traditional eye was taken by Time Flies with its beautiful paintings of birds, some unfinished.

Time Flies - Sutapa Biswas, 2004...
Time Flies - Sutapa Biswas, 2004...

The exhibition is on until March, I think I need to go back to figure more out.

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To be honest I didn’t really know a great deal about the North East before we moved here… but, I did know that The Tygers of Pan Tang were from Whitley Bay - I’m not sure why that was important, but it seemed to be. To be honest I knew The Tygers were from Whitley Bay long, long before I had a clue where Whitley Bay was!

But that knowledge was embedded in my head and lived there long after I’d left NWOBHM behind and gone all indie!

not that I ever really got NWOBHM out of my system - so boys, when you play a hometown gig … I’ll be there!

Now playing: Tygers of Pan Tang - Wild Cat (1980)
Now playing: Tygers of Pan Tang - Wild Cat (1980)

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Tynemouth station is enormous ~ there’s undoubtedly a very good historical reason for this but as a 21st century stop on the Metro it seems rather peculiar.

Arrive at the station on any weekday and you can’t help but be bemused by the great emptiness under the lovely roof.

Tynemouth station on a weekday
Tynemouth station on a weekday

But, arrive on a Saturday or a Sunday and you’re met by the overwhelming sight of that space being put to good (and very popular) use.

Tynemouth station at the weekend
Tynemouth station at the weekend

Now, I’m not that good with crowds at the best of times and in the age of Covid only more so - and while it’s lovely to see how popular Tynemouth Market is - I have to say I prefer the station during the week… and, particularly at night!

Tynemouth station clock
Tynemouth station clock

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Looking up-river from Tynemouth
Looking up-river from Tynemouth

When we decided to move out of London we established a number of criteria that the place we moved to had to fulfill - this is the first of a series of posts which might help explain why we ended up in the North East of England despite having no historic or familial connection to the area.

  • London has The Thames.
  • In London we lived where the River Brent joined The Grand Union Canal.
  • My ride to work was down the canal and along the Thames.
  • Where I worked was right on the river - not quite a river view from the office but I could be on the bank in a minute or two.
Kew Railway Bridge
Kew Railway Bridge

The water was really important - it was where we walked and where we rode - it was where we took visitors, it was were we escaped to. We needed to live near water!

Now the North East just doesn’t have canals, it seems by the time Industrial Revolution kicked in up here the rail had become the industrial artery of choice. But…

  • Tyneside has The Tyne (of course!)
  • In Tyneside where we live the Tyne joins The North Sea
  • Our walks invariably take in bit the river and the sea - and the beautiful bit where they join.
  • Currently my office does have sea views (although… I do have to crane my neck a little!)
The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle/Gateshead
The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle/Gateshead
The Low Lights, North Shields
The Low Lights, North Shields

I do miss the canal though.

Top Lock, Southall
Top Lock, Southall

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Lanterns on The Lake - The Peacock, September 2021
Lanterns on The Lake - The Peacock, September 2021

Last night Hazel and I took our next tentative steps back into live music with a lovely (and free) gig in a pub in Sunderland. The first gig had been mostly acoustic gentle folk so it was nice (for me anyway) to see a band with drums and electric guitars – and a little bit of wigging out.

Kathryn William - The Peacock, September 2021
Kathryn William - The Peacock, September 2021

Support was, however, mostly acoustic gentle folk - although it was provided by the always excellent, and regularly ramshackle, and unashamedly profane Kathryn Williams who played a too short but otherwise wonderful set - no lows but the highs were Heart Shaped Stone and her cover of These Days - complete with short, Nico impression thrown in. She felt the need to prepare the audience for that so that it made sense (although, it’d have made snese to me anyway).

Lanterns on The Lake - The Peacock, September 2021
Lanterns on The Lake - The Peacock, September 2021

Main act were Lanterns on The Lake who I’d last seen ten years previously at Truck Festival when they played before Dean Wareham. I bought a couple of albums on the back of that but have sort of lost touch since - not for any reasons except that sort of happens. Last night’s show was a treat, low key, charming, with a nice, rich variety and some lovely noise and the sort of rock that I’ve missed.

Lanterns on The Lake - Truck Festival 2011
Lanterns on The Lake - Truck Festival 2011

Next up it’s Steeleye Span at The Whitley Bay Playhouse on Sunday.

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