The Hatton Gallery

Melanie Squires visits Newcastle University's very own gallery for the first time.

19th October 2015

Being a native of Merseyside, I am used to gazing over the deep brown-green of the river and the towering structures which make up Liverpool’s city skyline, therefore I’m no stranger to art galleries. 

I am used to the old musk of ancient paint and carefully-applied wood polish of the Walker and the grandeur and loud, vibrant modernity of the Tate. The Hatton Gallery, then, is a change from what I am used to: it is blended in with the university’s fine art department, allowing for continual adaptation, and far smaller than the galleries back home.     

"what really set the hatton gallery apart from the galleries was the friendliness i was greeted with"

Upon entering, I was greeted by sunlight streaming in through the ceiling-to-floor windows onto Laurence Kavanagh’s October (Star and Shadow).  It struck me immediately with a dark streak of absence at the centre of the piece, as though there was a hole in the middle to somewhere dark and unknown.  Kavanagh himself referred to the surface as a ‘death mask.’  The piece haunted me throughout my journey deeper into the gallery, repeatedly popping up as a sort of sign pointing me back the way I’d come, reminding me it was there.  I adore the piece as both a pure aesthetic and a comment on the distance between reality and cinema and how it is felt by the audience.     

Another exhibition that really caught my eye was Memorious Earth by Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton. A video showing only a black and white image of gently rolling country hills with fog waving over them, interspersed with poetry describing in rich detail the landscape, it was an extremely diverse piece. Its ambient music was unsettling, growing louder and more intimidating as the video continued and seemed to compel me to watch the landscape for signs of danger.  It had my attention for most of my visit.     

"another exhibition that really caught my eye was memorious earth"

One of the most famous pieces of art displayed at the gallery is Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Barn wall, a fully constructed nd plastered wall, designed and built in the Lake District. It is a beautiful design of shapes and features, making it almost seem like a magical wall to an enchanted castle. When asked how the wall was imagined and brought to life, Schwitters replied, ‘all it is, is form and colour, just form and colour’. What really set the Hatton Gallery apart from the galleries back home was the friendliness I was greeted with when I entered.  I was lucky enough to be part of the Big Draw Event, to relax and doodle while contributing something to an international campaign. All in all, it was a wonderful, homely gallery and I look forward to re-visiting.

The Hatton Gallery is based on campus and is free to visit, with its opening times being 9-5 Monday through to Saturday.

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