BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Vane – Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain

The Not-for-profit Space Offering Context And Critique In Newcastle

Morten Schelde, ’Open Road’, 2017. Photo: the artist
Morten Schelde, ’Open Road’, 2017. Photo: the artist

There wasn’t much in terms of support for the arts in Newcastle, in 1997, when Vane was founded as an artist-run event series, “It was just a bunch of artists taking over empty buildings, at a time that coincided with city regeneration…including ones that were next to where we are now,” says gallery director, Paul Stone. Finally segueing from a quarterly iteration to the fixed premises they now occupy in an old office building in the city center in October 2011, and partly running on support from the Arts Council UK, this stability has brought the not-for-profit gallery the opportunity to support a range of local and international artists at all levels of their career: “We decided that the best way to support artists we wanted to work with was by setting up a gallery,” Stone says.

Stephen Palmer, ’He revolutionised Personal Computers’, 2015. Photo: the artist
Stephen Palmer, ’He revolutionised Personal Computers’, 2015. Photo: the artist
Narbi Price, ’Untitled Flowers Painting (DB)’, 2017. Photo: the artist
Narbi Price, ’Untitled Flowers Painting (DB)’, 2017. Photo: the artist
Flora Whiteley, ‘Present Continuous’, 2016 (installation view). Photo: Colin Davison
Flora Whiteley, ‘Present Continuous’, 2016 (installation view). Photo: Colin Davison

In terms of the artists on show, the founders are interested in the personal touch: “We don’t work with anyone we don’t want to work with!” Stone says. A few who have met these criteria are Flora Whiteley (who makes cinematically parallaxed drawings and paintings inspired by the interiors of the Bloomsbury Group), Oliver Doe (who recently curated an exhibition on contemporary queer minimalism for the gallery) and Stephen Palmer (whose drawings of crumpled newspapers reconsider the printed medium at a time when its existence is under threat). Though many of them have links to the northeast of the UK, many are also based in Europe and the United States, where Vane frequently travels to for art fairs: Volta’s Basel and New York editions, as well as Code and Circa in Puerto Rico. Vane are also themselves a stop on the touring art circuit, with the Jerwood Drawing Prize being hosted there this year (one of Vane’s own artists, Barbara Walker, will be showing work there, fresh off her success at the Diaspora Pavillion at Venice last year).
Vane are keen to keep the space flowing with new ideas, from shows of MFA students at Northumbria University nearby to shows of work by non-professional artists, for example through the homeless charity Crisis. “We try to keep physical space as well as mental space to be reactive to things,” they say. “We don’t want to offer these projects only foyer space. If we give people the gallery, we give them the gallery.” It’s an attitude that’s in keeping with the building they’re situated in, which hosts, among other things, a fashion lab, all-age, open education courses and studios for actors, writers and make-up artists.

EC Davies, ‘Press Play and Record’, 2017 (installation view). Photo: Colin Davison
EC Davies, ‘Press Play and Record’, 2017 (installation view). Photo: Colin Davison

This supportive, grassroots atmosphere is in stark contrast to the way Newcastle was when Vane started. One thing has changed though: just across the river Tyne in Gateshead, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art opened, a something of a monolithic presence in the area’s contemporary art culture. How has this affected smaller galleries, would they say? “There’s a bit of a presumption that this support will trickle down, I would actually say that there might be a trickle up in terms of people who are interested in more critically engaged work…They [Institutions] have no context without what’s going on around them. ” This background is where Vane, with over 20 years of grassroots arts organizing under its belt, has the upper hand.

by Josie Thaddeus-Johns

Josie Thaddeus-Johns is a writer and editor based in Berlin, covering art, music, film and more. She writes for the Guardian, Broadly, Creators Project, and others. She is currently working on her first novel.

All images courtesy Vane, Newcastle upon Tyne

More Information on Vane

Galleries (39)

Gianni Manhattan - Vienna, Austria

Young, International and Critically Astute

Misako & Rosen — Tokyo, Japan

Redefining the Conversation Around Aesthetics

Tiwani Contemporary – London, Great Britain

The London Gallery Promoting African Self-definition

Frutta Gallery — Rome, Italy

Understanding Tradition Without Hesitating to Break It

Contemporary Fine Arts – Berlin, Germany

From West to East and Back Again: a Berlin Institution That’s Made Its Mark

Bo Bjerggaard – Copenhagen, Denmark

Showcasing Figurative Painting With a Side of Communal Spirit

Pierre-Yves Caër Gallery – Paris, France

The Parisian gallery creating a home for Japanese artists in the European art market.

Blindspot Gallery — Hong Kong, China

Throwing a Spotlight on Local Artists

H’art Gallery — Bucharest, Romania

One of Bucharest’s Oldest Private-Run Galleries

LambdaLambda Lambda – Pristina, Kosovo

Mastering the Language in the Kosovan Capital

Deák Erika Galéria – Budapest, Hungary

Beyond Budapest’s Baths

The Breeder Gallery – Athens, Greece

Breeding New Forms in Athens

Tim Van Laere Gallery – Antwerp, Belgium

An autonomous gallery representing both upcoming and well-established artists

Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler – Berlin, Germany

One of the most cutting-edge galleries in Berlin

Galerie Fons Welters – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A Doorway to Amsterdam’s Contemporary Art

Bosse & Baum – London, United Kingdom

Ambitious perspectives in Peckham

TM51 – Oslo, Norway

Three Galleries in One – Oslo’s Most Accessible Space

mfc-michèle didier – Paris, France

A Space that Reflects the Artistic Discipline

V1 Gallery – Copenhagen, Denmark

Challenging the Boundaries of Art

Upstream Gallery – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tackling the Shift Between the Analog and Digital in a Post Internet World

Galerie Forsblom – Helsinki, Finland

Bringing international contemporary art to the Finnish capital

The Journal Gallery – New York, USA

Saving New York from Becoming a Sale-Focused Gallery Wasteland

Peres Projects – Berlin, Germany

Bridging the Gap Between Los Angeles and Berlin

Galeria OMR – Mexico City

Mexico City’s advocate for modern artistic tendencies and international contemporary art

LOYAL – Stockholm, Sweden

A Gallery that Pushes the Dialogue Around Young and International Art in Sweden’s Capital

Chimera-Project — Budapest, Hungary

Post-contemporary interest in aesthetics while eagerly re-constructing and defining traditions

La New Gallery — Madrid, Spain

Celebrating contemporary art in all its multi-faceted forms

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery – Sydney, Australia

Her uncanny ability to recognize unique Pacific Rim talent

Take Ninagawa Gallery – Tokyo, Japan

Promoting emerging Japanese artists within a cross-generational, international framework

RaebervonStenglin – Zurich, Switzerland

It is much more about concepts, long conversations and long-term commitment

Galerie Emanuel Layr – Vienna, Austria

Finding the right chord among the various artists

Platform China – Beijing/Hongkong, China

This shows how much prejudgment there still is

Fluxia – Milan, Italy

Strive to discover new approaches in contemporary art

Gaudel de Stampa – Paris, France

“Discreet” seems to be the perfect adjective

NON – Istanbul, Turkey

The dawn of an era of collaboration

Vermelho – São Paulo, Brazil

There were no galleries open to a new generation of artists working in a nontraditional way

Eleven Rivington – New York, USA

Newfound talent and rediscovers international artists for a new audience

Ibid. – London, Great Britain

Rather than listing names