Friday, 13 July 2018

Art Barracks of Singapore

On this trip I was hosted by the Singapore Tourism Board.

On my 2015 visit to Singapore, I spent an afternoon at Gillman Barracks.

Formerly a British army camp set up in the 1930s, it's now a "contemporary arts cluster", with art galleries strewn throughout the numerous buildings remaining from its military days.

A work by Filipino artist Winner Jumalon, on display at the Yavuz Gallery in March 2015.

There's a focus on contemporary art within its galleries. Though there's plenty of international work, the complex as a whole has an emphasis on emerging Asian artists.

It's a fascinating place, both for the breadth of its contemporary art exhibits, and also for the village-like setting of the barracks.

I had a very pleasant few hours there, eating lunch at one of the onsite restaurants and wandering between galleries.

As it's a gently hilly site with plenty of tropical greenery, there's none of the drabness you might expect of a former military facility.

Instead, it's a relatively quiet corner of Singapore, which allows you to take a breather from the city's usual traffic and crowds, and reflect on art.

For opening hours and other details, visit the Gillman Barracks website.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Great Exhibition of the North, UK

On my Newcastle visit I was assisted by the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative.

From now to the end of September 2018, the UK's sister cities of Newcastle and Gateshead are hosting the Great Exhibition of the North.

It's a big multi-venue event showcasing art, design and innovation.

Drawing on the region’s industrial heritage, three walking trails with those themes link events and venues, including free shows.

When I visited the city last year, I walked along the Tyne’s riverside and visited key locations which are being used for the Great Exhibition.

Here's a look at a couple of them.

The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art is a prominent local landmark.

This imposing former flour mill [pictured left] stands over the other side of the river from Newcastle, across the Millennium Bridge [above] in Gateshead.

I had a wander through its cavernous interiors, perfectly suited to exhibiting large, bold pieces of art.

During the Great Exhibition, the Baltic will house several exhibitions connecting with its themes.

One of the most interesting is Idea of North, a multimedia exploration of local identity.

A key component will be a photo exhibition of women of northeastern England, captured across the decades (including a glimpse of the obscure 'cave rave' scene of the 1990s).

Another interesting nearby space is Sage Gateshead. Within its ultramodern facade, it presents music performances. It certainly stands out in its eye-catching building above the river:

After you've explored these venues, I suggest you step back over the Tyne to Newcastle's Broad Chare pub and support a local brewery by ordering a Wylam beer.

As a writer, I couldn't go past the Writers' Block pale ale. I recommend it. Unlikely to solve that literary affliction, but it tastes good.

For more details of the Great Exhibition of the North, see the event's website.