I came to Globe after studying History of Art in Glasgow in 2011 and volunteered for a year before becoming a gallery assistant; a varied role that ranged from cleaning toilets to sourcing materials for artists, at one point having to buy live goldfish to be part of an installation! When I arrived, the second show in the Blandford Square space was in preparation and the building was draped with vinyl depicting the work of the eccentric Angus Braithwaite, featured in the show Fast-forward NCL that was about to open.
Much of the work displayed in Globe over the 4 or so years I worked at the Blandford square site, responded to the building in some way and its past life as a bank. The goldfish I referred to were actually featured in a cash point attached to the side of the building, designed by German artist Peter Berhbom, the result of an open call for a programme called Altered Space. The brief for which specifically asked its respondents to think about the traces we leave behind in the spaces we inhabit.
Because all voices are heard within Globe’s ethos, I was able, while still a volunteer to take part in the production of work for an exhibition: You are here and that is something, led by then artist in residence Ben Jeans Houghton. Armed with a loose brief to respond to the building’s history in some way, as the Altered Space artists would go on to do, a group of volunteers under Ben’s guidance started to research its past. What we came up with was a more abstract idea than a simple chronology of the former financial centre, we decided to envision the structure as the site of some spiritual or psychic energy, and as a group started to attend the Jesmond Spiritualist church on a weekly basis for inspiration. An ethereal film piece was produced, narrated by a form of automatic writing we all took part in, voiced by another local artist Michael Davies. At the preview event Ben gave a performance to tie in with the work and I read a story of the dissociate states achieved by early proponents of French Surrealism, based on my post graduate research.
This experience sums up what Globe Gallery is for me, a place of collaboration and cross pollination, a place where creatives of all backgrounds flourish, a place that will hopefully support this approach to making work for years to come. Globe Gallery was life altering for me in a number of ways and gave me the skills and experience to take on other varied roles at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, where I now work.