The artist JMW Turner had a curious habit of tipping his hat to the north. If anyone cared to ask him why, he would explain that the skies of Northumberland had made him famous so he never lost an opportunity to give his thanks.
Maybe it’s something to do with light, the wide open spaces or the breathtaking vistas, but it is without doubt art in Northumberland is inspired by the landscape and steeped in cultural tradition.
Turner wasn’t the only artist to be inspired by Northumberland’s dramatic scenery and romantic ruins, which are still a mecca for creative types today. Berwick upon Tweed was immortalised in paintings by LS Lowry and fast forward to the 20th century, the evocatively primitive illustrations by the Ashington Pitman Painters inspired playwright Lee Hall to turn their stories into a Broadway production.
Art in Northumberland can often symbolise regeneration and can be found all over our considerable County, from disused barns to ancient market towns and archaic stately homes, to the shores of our vast coastline. The Couple, by Sean Henry at Newbiggin by the Sea not only functions as an offshore breakwater, but brings a focal point to the historical fishing village of Newbiggin. This striking sculpture evokes the words of French poet Atoine de Saint-Exupery, “Love does not consist of gazing at eachother, but in looking outward together in the same direction”, giving onlookers pause for thought and an imparting sense of aspiration.
If modern art is more your thing or you enjoy art set within the landscape that inspired it, combine the two at Kielder Water & Forest Park, where walking and cycling trails for all abilities lead to unique and inspirational artworks, like James Turrell’s Skyspace – a cross between a camera obscura and a sculpture.
One of the most exciting things about art in Northumberland is the sheer number of spectacular galleries it has – often in the most unlikely of places. In the heart of Allendale the old garage has been transformed into the Allendale Forge Studios, showcasing the work of a wealth of talented local artists. The Queen’s Hall Arts Centre in Hexham, the Gallery Upstairs in Blanchland, Fifiefofum in Stocksfield, the Mick Oxley Gallery in Craster, the Crown Studio Art Gallery in Rothbury and the Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed are just a handful and a rich reminder of the variety Northumberland has to offer. Fora real taste of art at work, why not join the Northumberland Art Tour which takes place in June, July and December giving visitors a chance to sneak a look into the lives and homes of amazing artists and an opportunity to buy a unique piece of artwork from the maker?For a bit of a treat you could pay a visit to Northumberland’s bustling arty neighbours in NewcastleGateshead - the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art or The Laing Art Gallery.
If our creativity isinspiring you, why not come and have a go yourself? Many of our artists offer workshops and courses ranging from the traditional such as photography, painting, printmaking, glassmaking, textiles, ceramics and felt-making, to the specialities of peg looming, briknley loom weaving, rug tufting, proggy matting or giant knitting and crocheting. Whatever your creative cup of tea, Northumberland gives you the place, space and time to relax and learn a new skill.
Perhaps you’re planning a guided walk along Hadrian’s Wall, a cycle through the Cheviot Hills or an adventure in our National Park? Maybe you’d like to meander up our stunning coastline, with its numerous castles, unique coastal habitats and abundance of sea birds. Has it always been your dream to gallop down Bamburgh beach on horse-back? For those keen on the water, perhaps you’d like to kayak round Holy Island or along the river Tweed? Or perhaps you’d like the past brought back to life one of our historic houses or Roman ruins?Maybe you’d simply like to learn a little more about the flora and fauna of this diverse rural landscape?
Whatever your passion or motivation for coming here, we have a number ofwell reputed tour companies and highly knowledgeable tour guides in Northumberland just waiting to show you round! Best of all, most of them will carry your bags for you.
To find out more on choosing the right tour company or guide for you, have a browse through our tour guide page.