Sophie Dishman

Review and Interviews from NGCA Presents

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The National Gallery for Contemporary Arts held their NGCA Presents open mic night on Thursday October 22. The event was originally set up so that people could talk “about anything they wanted to” said curator for the gallery, George Vasey. It provides creative people in Sunderland with a “platform [to] talk about their work” as that was something that was missing in Sunderland, according to Kathryn Brame, who also works for the NGCA. 

Sophie Dishman went along to the event and spoke to the organisers and participants.

Holmeside Coffee is a regular place where many arts and cultural events happen – the NGCA Present’s event was no exception. The event had been advertised on social media and by Holmeside Coffee itself so a lot of people were expected to turn up on the night. The open mic session allowed people to speak for 10 minutes on their chosen subject and then we could network afterwards.

One of my friends was speaking on the night – Rebekah Kitchell. Rebekah spoke about a current project that she is doing for her photography degree. “I took this opportunity to practice presenting…as I’m doing a project around my parents and their fostering career” Rebekah said. Her piece was interesting and it highlighted the need for more students getting involved in events like these. It was her first time at an event like this but Rebekah said: “it seems like a great opportunity for like-minded individuals to meet up and chat”.

We also heard from Holmeside Writer’s participants – Iain Rowan and Alan Parkinson. Iain, the founder of Holmeside Writers talked to the audience to introduce the group “to a new audience and to look for people who [we] might collaborate with”, whereas Alan talked about his two novels that he has published and about his future as a full-time writer. Both highlighted the importance of literacy in the area of Sunderland and the need for literature to be a part of Sunderland’s culture.

Art was also at the forefront of the night with both Kathryn Brame and Janina Sabaliauskaite talking about opportunities within the arts world and about their own projects.

Kathryn, who was also one of the organisers of the event spoke about her Master’s degree projects which featured video and multimedia installations. She talked at length about her final degree project which was filmed in an abandoned hospital in Newcastle and said that this type of event provided her with opportunities and “new people to collaborate with”. Collaboration was an important point taken away by many from the event.

Janina, a photography graduate from the University of Sunderland talked about a voluntary organisation called Solo Arts that supports up and coming North East artists exhibit their work. They hold exhibitions in Independent on a monthly basis and discussed how the organisation operates. She showed the audience some examples of past exhibitions and said: “culture is everything”. I didn’t even know this type of event existed which was highlighted by Janina, she said: “I think it’s really important for local people to know that these things are happening because they need the constant inspiration”.

After the open mic sessions had ended, people were given the opportunity to stay and network. George Vasey said: “the open mic night…is by far the most popular project that we do”, with Kathryn Brame adding that she was “pleased” with the turnout at the event and that they had some good feedback from the event.

I certainly enjoyed it and will be speaking at the next one.

If you want to visit the gallery or speak to the organisers in person, then the NGCA is situated on the third floor of the City Library.

The gallery also offer other events that the general public can attend. They have an exhibition preview which is next Thursday the 29th of October from 6 until 8 and are running a project called Bookshop within the next few weeks.

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