Amble’s artistic buzz reflects a growing local arts scene
Over the past few months, there has been a real momentum amongst many of us involved in the arts in Amble, that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. That is, Amble has the beginnings of a tangible ‘art scene’.
In March, I was awarded a small bursary by the North East Artists Fund, and used it to hire an empty room inside the Old Harbour Master’s Building to mount a pop-up exhibition. The show, entitled ‘At the River Mouth’, brought together work from four artists based in the area who have dealt with the landscape around the mouth of the River Coquet. The preview night proved extremely busy and we had a steady stream of visitors during the following Saturday. We estimated receiving around 250 visitors in all.
We were pleasantly surprised with the high turnout, given the small scale and limited advertising we undertook. It really proved to us that there is an appetite for engaging with contemporary art in this area.
The show was a precursor to a larger group exhibition Called the Dovecote Street Show, it will be Amble’s largest-ever art exhibition to date.
The exhibition which runs until 28 May, has been organised by myself and Amble photographer Jim Donnelly, in partnership with the Northumberland Theatre Company, who own and operate the Dovecote Centre. Thanks to the backing of Amble Town Council, who have purchased exhibition boards on our behalf. We are excited to be mounting what constitutes the first exhibition of this type to happen in Amble.
This momentum comes off the back of a number of factors at play within the past five years. The development of the Dry Water Arts Centre has been critical in providing a space for activities and exhibitions in the centre of town. Their emphasis on community engagement has proved very popular and the centre continues to go from strength to strength.
If the ‘Bord Waalk’ Sculpture Trail lives up to expectations, it too will prove a welcome addition to the town’s cultural offering. The Old Bath House in Broomhill has proved vital in building up a visible community of artists. However this groundswell is not limited to Amble. There is a wider sense of creative upstart across the area.
In Alnwick, the Bailiffgate Museum has hosted a string of successful solo exhibitions of painters and printmakers from the town. In addition, the well established Old School Gallery in Alnmouth, and the more recent RePUBlic gallery in Blyth (located in the old Kings Head Pub) are providing spaces for regular exciting showings of contemporary art.
Newbiggin too is host to a bustling community of artists; its Arts Centre, located on the High Street, has a steadily strengthening programme of exhibitions. The list goes on, but my point is that there is a rising tide of creativity in the area.
It is my hope that Amble can become the focal point for it over the next few years.