Monday, January 26, 2009

The Works 5 - January 2009

Happy New Year!

2009 promises to be an exciting year, particularly for the Mushroom Works gallery. We have a new programme (which will be announced officially with it’s launch in the March edition of The Works), we’ll be working with Business Link to ensure we’re running on all cylinders and we’ll be developing our partnerships and relations with other regional organisations to help raise our profile and increase our reach. Happy New Year!


New Faces

Bettina Nissen

Mushroom Works welcomes another new girl

Bettina joined us in mid November (just after the November issue of the works went to print). Bettina, a product designer, shares a studio at the Mushroom Works with Eva Bauer.

Bettina’s work is inspired by observations from daily life, she is curious about how we shape our routines and habits as well as how they shape us. She creates products and furniture that combine humour with functionality. For more information on Bettina visit her website


Iris Priest

We’d like to offer a really warm welcome to Iris Priest to The Mushroom Works

Since November Iris has been volunteering at The Mushroom Works every Saturday, helping to make the tea, greet visitors to the gallery and any other little jobs that you can throw her way!

Iris graduated from Fine Art at Cumbria Institute of the Arts this year and is currently exhibiting a solo show of her paintings at the new contemporary art space ‘Supercollider’ in Blackpool.


News from the studios…

Now we are four!

Happy Birthday Mushroom Works!

This January will be the fourth birthday for the Mushroom Works and to celebrate we’ll be holding a birthday bash on evening of the last Saturday of the month. Join us from 6pm on Saturday 31st January as we pop a few corks and scoff some cake.

No presents required, just your presence!!


Perfect Presents

Last December we Toon red, well the walls of the gallery anyway with a group show of over twenty regional artists, illustrators, designers and makers.

As well as exhibiting work by studio holders the show featured work by Yvette Hawkins (book sculpture), Idiot Savant (digital prints), John Parkin (drawings), Deborah Snell (prints), , Jane Smallcombe (jewellery), Richard Short (illustrations), Larissa Robinson-Joice (craft), Much Ado (limited edition cards), Helen Schell (drawings and glass), Val James (jewellery) and Rainbird & Wright (bags and jewellery)

The show also brought new art forms into the building with live music by the Cornshed Sisters, on the opening night, and two evenings of flute and harp music by Echo for our late night shopping events.


The Sundance Kids

Mark Jobe and partner Kelly Richardson have hit International headlines with their recent collaboration (no, not that one, not yet, read on for more news about Jobe junior!).  As well as the being shown at the Sundance Festival the piece has been acquired by two major museums in North America for their permanent collections.  These are the Art Gallery of Ontario (Canada's version of the Tate) and Albright Knox in Buffalo. It was also voted 3rd best Art Show of 2008 by Now Magazine, Toronto.

“Richardson’s magnificent glowing green stag preening in a nighttime forest was one of this year’s most arresting art images in any genre. Richardson used her consummate skill as a videographer and animator to construct videos that cleverly subverted and toyed with our ideas of what is natural and actual in both nature and art.” Now Magazine 2008

For more info visit


AA greaat opportunity!

Bettina Nissen was selected for this year’s Artists Access to Art Colleges Scheme (AA2A) at the University of Sunderland Glass and Ceramics Department. Bettina will be working in a new medium, ceramics, to develop an innovative tableware design.


The project looks at tableware and cutlery from a different angle. The use of fork and knife as fundamental tools of eating in western society is the basis for Bettina’s experiments in ceramic and clay. Inspired by the butter knife and the patterns it leaves on its counterpart, the tableware will be carved and marked with fork and knife.



January Sales

This January Mushroom Works gallery presents a group exhibition of work by several of its studio holders, including furniture designer/makers, Michael Armstrong and Nick James, Illustrator, Bethan Laker and Jewellery artist, Bronwen Deane

Mushroom Works is offering the chance to purchase original artwork, design classics and rare pieces by its studio holders at a fraction of their original selling price (some up to 75% less!) – a great way to start buying art and design pieces from established regional artists and designers.

10th – 31st January 2008


Roses Are Red

Our second show of 2009 falls on February, the month of love. To celebrate St Valentine’s day we’ll be hosting a red themed exhibition, showing work by studio holders and other artists, designers and makers from the region. 

A call for work will go out early January via several regional channels. If you would like to take part in Roses Are Red please email Lara with details of the work you’d like to include by Friday 23rd January. 


Other news

Welcome Baby Jobe-Richardson

Not long now! Mark and Kelly’s little boy is due late January (21st to be precise) and as you’d expect, they’re both very excited. Mark has entertained fellow facebookers on a daily basis with his soon to be fatherly updates.

"Mark Jobe is gonna be a Dad and a husband by the end of the year! Stuntman would make it three....rawk on"

Good luck guys, can’t wait to meet the little fella!!





The Works 4 - November 2008

News from the studios...


A doodle for a drink, a fair swap indeed! October saw the first of Mushroom Works’ BIG DRAW events.

Nearly two hundred visitors came to see Bethan’s doodles, drawings and paintings and to make their mark on Bethan’s gigantic room shaped canvas. Bethan’s exhibition provided the perfect opportunity for young and old to get involved, some even came with their own doodling apparatus!

Thanks to everyone who donated to the paper amnesty. If anyone’s stuck for a surface to scribble on please feel free to pick up a sheet or ten from the corridor at Mushroom Works.

Mushroom Works were one of over 1000 UK venues participating in the Big Draw, the national campaign to get everyone drawing.


New Faces

Ilana Mitchell

We’d like to offer a really warm welcome to Ilana Mitchell to The Brick Works

Ilana is literally moving into studio 12 as the newsletter goes to print. Ilana ‘s an artist working in Live Art.  She’s currently working on several projects , one of which is as a freelancer developing the new as yet unnamed festival for the North East. More details on this can be found at

More information on Ilana will follow shortly as she’s in the middle of updating her website and contact details.


Lara Robinson

October saw the start of a new Development Manager for the Mushroom Works.

Lara’s settling in nicely after joining the Mushroom Works just over a month ago. Her role is to help to develop the gallery and both studios whilst supporting the creative folk that inhabit them.

Lara joins us from the North East office of Arts Council England where she worked as both Visual Arts Officer, Media and as part of the Cultural Sector Development Initiative team.  

Lara has also worked at Tyne & Wear Museums, Museums, Libraries & Archives North East, DLI Museum & Art Gallery and Globe Gallery.

She loves being surrounded by creative types so if you’re walking past the office and have a spare five minutes she’s love you to pop in and say hello.

(Oh, and she likes baking… keep an eye on the MW kitchen!)



People Places

The Mushroom Works gallery presents a joint exhibition of work by Newcastle based painters Claire McAlister and Jim Edwards from Saturday 8 November to Sunday 30 November. The exhibition will consist of previously unseen work by both artists.

Jim Edwards is best known for his depictions of iconic buildings and bridges of the North East.  His work falls into two genres, contemporary cityscapes and abstract paintings inspired by manmade forms and buildings. Both styles follow a theme of architecturally inspired structures and dominating linear form. In this latest exhibition, his paintings are looser, more abstract, whilst holding onto a sense of familiarity

Claire McAlister’s new body of work focuses on the human form. Each piece of work has been strategically composed to accentuate light on the figure within the frame. Claire wants to create contrast between decorative detail on the clothing with a soft, more blurred background. It is not the artist’s intention to focus on the figure’s character or facial expression; more so the environment and moment in which the figure is placed.

Claire and Jim’s preview is Friday 7 November. Hope to see you there!

 Other News

Ooh la la!

We say bon voyage to Nick James this month as he packs his bags and heads off to St Etienne on a designer/maker research exchange for four days at the end of November. Designed & Made and Collectif Designers+ have coordinated the 10˚N 10˚S Design Exchange project, which supports the exchange of four British designers with four French.

The French research trip coincides with the 5th International Design Biennial whilst the Brits will return their hospitality during DE09.

St Etienne University has generously offered to provide interpreters and a film crew for the exchange. The film will be shown at the 2010 biennial.

More info on Nick’s adventure can be found on the exchange blog  


There’s a new boss in town…

Joanne Wishart is expanding her business one hundred percent with the introduction of a new employee. Joanne’s husband, Ross will be providing the extra pair of hands from now on. Ross’ role is to develop the business side of things allowing Joanne to pick up her paint brush and do what she does best!  By all accounts the pair look to make a fantastic creative/commercial duo! Congratulations Joanne, we wish you all the best!


Celebrations all round

Firstly, Happy Birthday Tonto! Tonto Books is now officially three years old! (I’m told all cards, cake and alcohol will be generously accepted).

A second congratulations on all the marvelous press The Non-Beardy Beer book has been attracting, 4 star reviews in The North East Times and features in The Crack name a few.

Third and finally, all the best with your latest venture,, The NUFC TOON DAIRY.  A must-have for Newcastle United fans, this useful and fascinating diary is packed with facts and information compiled by's Mike 'Biffa' Bolam. Tonto have book signings taking place across the region at Borders book stores. Check out there website for more details

 The Toon Diary is available from Tonto’s website and 
(and all other good bookshop of course!)


A GLOWing profile

The Preamptive boys are planning to be all over the toon this winter. Well, their impressive work with the Northern Lights Film Festival will be. They’ve won the commission to create an ident to promote the NLFF in the month leading up to the festival (30th November – 6th December) The ident will be shown before all screenings at the Tyneside Cinema, Star & Shadow as well as being screened on a loop in the Tyneside Cinema lobby and Box Office.

 In another of their guises, NOVAC, the boys are participating in one of NGI’s most successful annual events, The Winter Festival. As part of Glow, the boys have converted a van into a truly audience engaging mobile wonder. The van will have three plasma screens, a Nintendo  Wii and participatory projects such as art graffiti. It recently went through a child friendly MOT as part of Juice, the first North East festival for children and young people


Sarah Blood update

“Sarah is heading into kathmandu in search of a hot shower and the first beer in a loooooong time…”

For those of you who aren’t on Sarah’s list of facebook friends she looks to be having a fantastic albeit rather chilly time. Sarah’s currently spending three month trip to Nepal where she will help girls who have been rescued from Human Trafficking. For more info visit Sarah’s blog


What's coming up?

Perfect Presents - Mushroom Works’ Christmas Show

In the run up to Christmas we will be have a show which has been advertised as having ‘stunning and individual Christmas Presents’.

The exhibition will aim to provide unique Christmas presents with an element of affordability.  A present bought at the show could mean the world to someone but not cost the earth.

To encourage as many visitors as possible we’ll be having three late night openings – Friday 5 (preview), Thursdays 11 and 18. We’ll have live music and a glass of fizz on offer so tell as many people as you can.

This year the front gallery and corridor will be open to residents and non-residents (for a fee non-residents can rent a 4x4ft sq area however there will be a selection process). These spaces, front gallery and corridor, will be for lower price ranges around £5-50 mark. Spaces are free of charge to residents.

If you would like be involved with the exhibition please contact Lara Please be able to have the work ready by 1st December.

Living North Fair

Joanne Wishart is again exhibiting in the Art and Craft Hall at the Living North Christmas fair, Newcastle Racecourse. The fair is an annual event full of fabulous food, interiors, art and gifts for all types of visitors

Joanne creates quirky images inspired by her love of the British coast.  Her cheerful paintings are rich in texture and splashed with colour. 

Open Studios 2008

Probably the most creative weekend 2008 has to offer!

The last weekend in November sees the return of the much-anticipated Ouseburn Open Studios event. The annual opening, which promises to be bigger and better than before, offers the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at several of the region’s leading studios and galleries. Over a hundred artists from the Ouseburn Valley will open their doors to welcome the public into their working environment.

This year, the eight partners have organized a coordinated approach to opening their doors. The new identity for the weekend (see below) has been featured in various regional publications. Due to the diverse nature of the partners involved we’ve adopted a simple brand with flexibility that doesn’t compete with the artwork. Look out for the new leaflet – A2 in size, it provides a great guide to the weekend, for visitors old and new with a map, venue information and details of special events.

January Sales

We’re opening our doors to all those frenzied sale shoppers who are out to grab a bargain or two in the cold month of January. We’re inviting people to banish their January blues by visiting the Mushroom Works, where they’ll be able to buy all the yummy things they really wanted for Christmas at super affordable prices

If you’re interested in making a bit more room in your studio get in touch and we’ll sort you out with some wall space and a couple of neon stars! (No, seriously! Sale banner and bags a-hoy!).

Our January Sale will open on 9th January. 


The Works 3 - September 2008

News from the studios

Love is in the air…

There is somewhat of a mystery in our two favourite Ouseburn buildings and questions are being asked. Is there something in the water? Has someone called Cupid secretly taken up residence?

Six, yes SIX different couples have got engaged in recent weeks :  Nick and Bronwen, Mark and Kelly, Fiona and Jim, Bethan and Matt, Lucinda and George and Eva and Ross.  It may not have been much of a summer weather-wise but to this lot it’s been one hell of a summer of love. 


New Faces          

Angela Kennedy

We’d like to offer a warm welcome to Angela Kennedy who has just moved into The Brick Works. Angela works as a Multi-Disciplinary Artist and, as well as painting, her practice includes sculpture, installation, movement, dance, performance and site specific work.

See Angela’s work at Chroma, a solo exhibition of paintings at the new atrium space at Dance City.   These recent oil on canvas paintings are an attempt to make connections between the use of improvisation as a device to make movement and dance, and the exploration of that inner process through mark making, gesture and colour.  CHROMA is a manifestation of these investigations.

Amanda Rabey

Also this month, Amanda Rabey moved into Mushroom Works. Amanda is an oil painter who trained at the Slade. She is returning to the world of painting now her little boy is going to school.

Her work investigates the varying aspect of micro and macro scales in the universe.

Amanda also has work in the Collection of 20th Century Women artists

Other News

Newcastle Gateshead Art Fair

Jim Edwards and Joanne Wishart are joining forces with ex Mushroom Works painter Bernie Wisniewski to exhibit at the NewcastleGateshead Art Fair.  Their stall will be called Edwards Wishart and will be situated in the Northern Rock room in the Sage.

The NewcastleGateshead Art Fair will be a must for all visitors, art lovers and collectors along with those interested in browsing for their first investment. Visitors can look forward to an extensive range of unique art works. Exhibitors can expect thousands to view their works, with collectors and art lovers looking for a deal and the next new thing.

This year’s event will also feature a seminar programme in the run up to the Fair. A series of talks on buying art and building a collection will be held in conjunction with the BALTIC centre for contemporary art. Details will be placed on the website


Edwards Wishart.  Joanne Wishart creates quirky images inspired by her love of the British coast.  Her cheerful paintings are rich in texture and splashed with colour.  Jim Edwards paints recognisable cityscapes of raised perspectives and bright colours, and newer work of bold outlines and dominant abstracted forms.  Bernie Wisniewski is a self taught artist.  As a native of the region, he paints things as he sees them.  His work is simple, well executed and full of vitality.


The Big Draw

Big plans are afoot for one of the most ambitious Mushroom Works projects to date, The Big Draw.  Bethan Laker, Nick James and helpers will transform parts of the building into one giant canvas.  Schools will be asked to submit drawings for the corridor walls and families will be invited to attend Make Your Mark, a special drawing workshop for children from 10 – 4pm on 11th October.  

There will also be an evening session for grown-ups called Drink and Draw.  Participants will be given a drink for every drawing they do. 6-9m on 11th October. 


The Big Draw is part of a national campaign to get everyone drawing.  It was inspired by the visionary Victorian artist and writer, John Ruskin whose mission was not to teach people how to draw but how to see. The Campaign for Drawing proves that drawing can be an enjoyable public activity as well as a private passion and is the perfect medium for observation, self-expression and fun.  Over a thousand UK venues from scout huts to national museums will take part. 

As a build up to the Mushroom Works events on October 11th  Bethan and Nick will be announcing a paper amnesty calling for scraps of paper, wallpaper, etc. from a variety of local businesses including printers and of course YOU! So get saving all of your paper.


Open Studios

Open Studios this year will be, as usual, on the last weekend of November 29th and 30th. We will opening Mushroom Works starting with a preview on the Friday night of 28th.  This year there will be 8 venues taking part with the bus running between them all over both days.

Based on the success of previous years we will be doing 20x20 again, so get those thinking caps on to come up with some new ideas and make as many as you can! We will be doing teas and coffee in Studio 4 and hope to provide some colouring sheets for children to do whilst they are here. Any of you who would like to contribute an image which we can use as a colouring sheet please email it to


Opportunities on a plate

There are a limited number of places still available for the Opportunities on a plate dinners.  The dinners provide an innovative way to bring people from different walks of life together for debate in an informal setting.

Whilst being wined and dined guests will be given the opportunity to discuss new opportunities and ways to deal with the environment, apathy and learning.  Guests include not only people from the MW and the BW but also from universities, funding organisations and other creative fields including architecture, performance, etc.  The ideas discussed could be anything from big commercial initiatives to small projects involving individual artists but the intention is that these brainstorming sessions will only be the start of the process.  The participants will be invited to attend a series of workshops on 30th September to learn how to put some of the ideas generated into practice. 

The dinners started last Thursday with the ‘environment’ where a selection of invited guests, Mushroom and Brick Workers enjoyed a few glasses of wine a some food whilst discussing what was getting their knickers in a twist. This made for and enjoyable and thought provoking evening where we talked everything from bike rides to builders.

Who knows where these ideas could lead?  Don’t miss out on this excellent opportunity to give your input into ways to change the world.  The remaining dinners are on 11th and 18th September at 7 pm and only have a few places left.  If you are interested in booking  please contact Nick on


Neil Wilson Design strikes again!

Following on the huge success of Le Beado's flagship store in Durham a second store also designed by Mr Wilson will open in a month's time on Acorn Road in Jesmond.

Neil has had a great year as he is also enjoying a double life as a design associate for the Design Council's Design and Demand.  He is also a director of A: Design Association which promotes the use of design in the North East.


The Non-Beardy Beer Book

Tonto’s latest offering - ‘An alternative to beardy and boring real-ale guides, The Non-Beardy Beer Book is a humorous and no-nonsense guide to Booze Britain's favourite drinks, featuring irreverent reviews of 100 of the UK's bestselling brands of beer, lager and cider,  plus bluffer's guides to the most popular wines, alcopops, spirits and cocktails, lovingly put together by a panel of completely independent (possibly inebriated) reviewers.

Following on from Tonto’s news in the last newsletter Ashley Hames, TV presenter and author of ‘Sin Cities, Adventures of a Sex Reporter’ will be speaking at Cambridge Union Society in October.   Paralympian and writer Stephen Miller is currently in Beijing competing on 11th and 15th September.   Tonto Press’ Toon Diary will be released in October. 


The Lost Rainbow

The Lost Rainbow' a children's book illustrated by Bethan Laker, was launched on 27th  August at Seven Stories with Helix Arts and YNOT? If you didn't make it to the preview the book is available from Seven Stories and Baltic.


Canvas & Cocktails

It’s official.  Art and alcohol do mix and rather well if Sarah Blood’s recent ‘Canvas and Cocktails’ fundraiser was anything to go by. Sarah said, “It was a pretty relaxed evening and everyone got stuck in with no inhibitions, even the ‘non-arty’ attendees although I think the margaritas may have helped with that!  Everyone took home canvases that they were happy with and some even had time to paint two.  Most of the feedback was about how nice it was to do something different that you wouldn’t usually make time to do.”

This event was put on by Sarah Blood who is fundraising for a three month trip to Nepal where she will help girls who have been rescued from Human Trafficking.

Other fundraising is also being supported by Cohda Design  who have donated two specially made red chairs from the RD Legs series which are to be auctioned with all monies being donated to Sarah’s trip. For more information visit

Further a field, Leicester bands are holding a benefit gig and donating all profits.  Further details can be found on Sarah’s blog (see web news).


Special Mention

Congratulations also go to Mark Jobe and Kelly Richardson who are expecting their first child in January.  They have just returned from a trip to Canada for Kelly’s exhibition Twilight Avenger at Birch Libralato in Toronto.