Great Exhibition of the North line-up: From Postman Pat to Lubaina Himid


The Kaiser Chiefs, Postman Pat and Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid are all on the line-up for the Great Exhibition of the North, which will take place this summer.

The 11-week festival will celebrate "great art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England".

Staged in Newcastle and Gateshead, it will be paid for with £5m from the government's Northern Powerhouse fund.

After the opening ceremony on 22 June, the event will run until 9 September.

It will begin with performances by the Kaiser Chiefs and poet Lemn Sissay, and will feature what's said to be the UK's largest water sculpture – an 80m-long fountain – on the River Tyne.

On the opening weekend, members of the public will be invited to join in with wandering groups of dancers, while three choirs will make their way through the cities.

Other highlights of the festival will include Robert Stephenson's Rocket, on loan from the Science Museum, with a virtual reality experience recreating the early steam age.

John Lennon's last piano and the original Postman Pat models will be part of an exhibition of northern cultural creations at the Great North Museum.

Preston-based Lubaina Himid, who won the Turner Prize in 2017, will stage an exhibition inspired by the colourful east African kanga fabric at the Baltic gallery.

The same gallery will host works by Ryan Gander, who will create sculptures inspired by northern inventions, from Joseph Swan's incandescent light bulb to George Stephenson's Geordie safety lamp.

BBC 6 Music DJ Lauren Laverne will curate a series of concerts featuring northern musicians at the nearby Sage Gateshead.

Visitors will also be invited to take in the attractions along three special walking routes.

The innovation trail:

  • The Beatles, a Rolls Royce and The Great North Run will be among 40 "northern innovations" to be built in Lego by Steve Mayes at The Mining Institute
  • Six artists will be paired with six scientists for The Hexagon Experiment to shine a light on the contributions of women in science and the arts
  • The histories of the light bulb and robotics will be on show at the Lit & Phil and Life Science Centre respectively
  • A series of exhibitions and performances (and mass quilt-making) will explore learning disability and parenthood

The arts trail:

  • Opera North will take people on a musical journey along the banks of the River Tyne using songs and stories in Aeons
  • A poem displayed outside the Theatre Royal will refresh every minute, using real-time data about weather, traffic and travel
  • Artist Glenn Brown, who manipulates masterpieces by the likes of Fragonard and Dali, will have an exhibition at the Laing Gallery

The design trail:

  • A street art trail in the Ouseburn Valley will be inspired by the work of children's writer David Almond
  • Almond will also be celebrated in an exhibition at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books
  • You can follow the design process of a product – from idea to testing to brand identity – and come up with your own creation, ending at the Northern Design Centre

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