nicole mullen

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Northscape: An exhibition showcasing the beauty of the North East

The first thing that strikes me about the top floor of the Old Low Light is the natural light; there is so much of it, streaming in through sash windows, and filling the space with a sense of serenity and calm.

I'm at the Old Low Light for Northscape: an exhibition of work by three artists living and working in the North East of England. Paintings fill the walls, depicting everywhere from Whitley Bay to Dunstanburgh; Holy Island to Hartlepool.

The featured artists, Christine Cave, Hilary Fawcett and Linda Kay, became friends whilst attending art class at the very building with which they are exhibiting now. "It's a very good venue," Hilary tells me. "The light; the sea views; it's quite simply a lovely place to showcase our work."

Sea views from the gallery

Sea views from the gallery

Available to view, and buy, at the Old Low Light are a selection of works by Christine, Hilary and Linda. A personal favourite of mine is Linda's Fish Quay Study series, not least because it's where I call home, but because of the way the paintings manage to capture the vibrancy of the Quay in all of its colourful glory. 

I seem to gravitate towards the seascapes: Linda's Dunstanburgh from the North, a candy-coloured view of the beach; Hilary's Holy Island, an amass of colour, and Christine's North Sea 1 + 2, capturing the often stormy nature of the sea.

The sea is something I missed, dearly, during my 6-year tenure in London. I felt so far away from the one thing that featured so heavily in my childhood. Linda empathises: "I was born in Norfolk, but I don’t have the Norfolk accent because we came up to the North East when I was five. I like being on the edge of the country. I would hate to live [in London]; I couldn’t stand being land-locked."

North Shields Fish Quay

North Shields Fish Quay

All three artists talk passionately about the North East, as a place they call home. “What I love about it is that you can turn one way, and you’re in the rural countryside, then you can turn the other way, and you’re on the coastline,” Christine enthuses.

"The North East is as good a place to live in the country as any," agrees Hilary. "There is countryside, the sea, and Newcastle, in particular, is a very elegant city."

It is no wonder that the rolling fields, crashing waves and picturesque beaches of the North East feature so heavily in the artists' work, and no surprise that they chose the Old Low Light as a means of exhibiting such work. The paintings themselves are made only more alive by the comforting lull of the tide in the background. "Those fantastic views are like art through the window itself," Christine says.

Art, and the act of painting, is something I talk about at length with Christine, Hilary and Linda. For Christine, it's a form of relaxation: "Once I start to paint, I just lose myself in the paintings; hours can pass without even knowing about it." For Hilary, painting affords her the freedom of expressing herself in a way that she gets pleasure from. And for Linda, the act of selecting a medium (pastels; oils; acrylics) is one that is intrinsically linked to her mood.

Talking to Northscape's featured artists is like chatting to an old friend about growing up on the coast. I leave the exhibition feeling an affirmation for our little corner of England. Now, to return to my flat, further along the Fish Quay, and to remind myself of how lucky I am to be so close to the sea...


Northscape runs until April 29, on the top floor of the Old Low Light, Clifford's Fort, North Shields Fish Quay, NE30 1JE. Tickets are £3, and include entry to the museum, too. For more information, please visit:

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