Aah the Globe Gallery… what a wonderland of innovation, contemporary art, hard work, excitement and resilience! In case you think it’s a place, think again! Like art, like any ideas in fact, Globe is not restricted by a venue but it’s rather yours to take wherever you are!
In 2000, two years after my move to Newcastle from Athens, Greece and in my 2nd year at Uni, I answered an advert on the notice board of my department where volunteers needed in an art gallery. I arranged to meet Rashida Davison for the first time in Quay Side bar for Globe’s Flashpoint event – I told you, it goes everywhere! And that was it really, volunteered for 3 years and gratefully employed for some time after that in various roles.
During my time there we went everywhere! From our original venue in North Shield, to Globe City in the heart of Newcastle with an exhibition programme showing across our 2 venues. The Gallery later on moved to Blandford Square and its 4 floors of exhibition space, to a Pilgrim street shop-floor to the heights of the 7th floor in Commercial Union House . While I was at Globe, we travelled the country looking for new exciting artists and collaborations, we went to New York, visiting artist-studio and the brilliant Alexander Gorlizki who was based on the building ‘Fame’ was shot in the 80s. We went to the Venice Biennale and I even had the opportunity to set up a collaborative exhibition in Slovakia and for my final show at Globe City to exhibit Greece’s representative artist in the Biennale of Sao Paolo, Brazil, the amazing Harris Kontosphyris!
Seven consecutive years I worked with Globe but my connection remains close. I remember once a conversation with a director of a major Gallery where they referred to the Globe as a small organisation, and you know, up until that moment, it had never occurred to me that we were indeed a small organisation! We had big ambitions, bags of determination and passion to see each exhibition through. Rashida’s unique scope and vision for each exhibition and her exemplary work ethics and hands on approach, propelled us to produce high quality shows to the best of our ability, unafraid of hard work into the early hours of the morning– the fact that we could still smoke inside the venue back then definitely helped!
I am going to be truthful here and tell you that, as extraordinary as it is, this job is especially tough! In fact, the core of the work is the ability to overcome adversity – whether that is the lack of heating or the obligatory non-smoking sign, or on a serious note the reduction of funding and the actual withdrawal of regular funding altogether coupled with rent increases causing the closure of Globe City . For every new venue we managed to secure, it meant that we lost the old one due to funding restrictions or loss of funding all together. For every exhibition we put on, the man-hours and the impact of the exhibitions to our audience exceeded any budget and to my knowledge the past few years have been extremely tough not only on Globe but also to other similar size organisations and galleries nationally and internationally.
But here we are! Ideas are never bound and art is entrenched in the human psychic. Challenges bring out our resilience and seek out our flexible and adaptable spirit. It is in times of strife that art flourish and touches us the most because it speaks for all of us in a language outside the main stream chatter. I believe there is a moral responsibility to support our artists and our venues, if we want to continue to hear the language of the human soul. I am aware of this power because I took every single visitor at the Globe on a journey through each of the exhibits and I broke down any barriers about the contemporary arts, every time there was a smile from my visitor, a tear, a personal confession, an impactful moment for us both.
I will leave you with this: The electric board only connected the venue with electricity just a few minutes before our first ever opening at Globe City, oh and Tod Hanson’s work from that opening, is still hidden behind the walls!