Gallery 5 - Images of Newcastle Upon Tyne
‘Kaleidoscopicity’ is a personal vision of my home town Newcastle upon Tyne. The city occupies a very special room in my heart and soul as it does with a lot of my family and friends. It’s not just about the friendly people and the fantastic architecture, or its reputation for being one of the world’s top ten night spots, they’re self-evident; for me it’s something less tangible and dare I say, more mystical. Perhaps I should just say intangible, it’s less controversial.
Who knows? It could be to do with its amazing history, or the actual ground on which it is built. Maybe something about its situation in the North East of England, latitude 54.974° North and longitude 1.614° West, I don’t know. The not always beautiful river Tyne must be in the mix somewhere. What I know and feel it to be is that there is something special in the actual air, the holistic atmosphere surrounding the city, the very space of the place. The Romans knew it for more practical reasons, such as its strategic defensive position and easily accessible coal, but I like to think that they must have recognised it as more than just a good place to build a bridge across a river and establish a fort there, they must have thought it was the right place, and so do I.
I get carried away when I talk about my place of birth. Being brought up in Newcastle the way I was with all the wisdom and influences of the family and friends I had, I feel, enabled me to venture out into the world and take on challenges I perhaps would not have been able to do if I had been born somewhere else. The phrase “wat’s heor Geordie?” has echoed in my ears from a deserted beach on a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand called Ko Phangan to a posh hotel bar in downtown Dallas, Texas and many other places in between so we’re pretty wide spread.
All of the photographs were taken by me in January, February and March 2007 consequently they are already well out of date. I just took my time walking around the town and quayside, snapping away, getting funny looks from people. My initial thoughts were concerned with trying to get people living there, or visiting Newcastle, to raise their heads above street level, without causing too many accidents of course, and take in aspects of the city they never knew existed, or if they did, show them a different perspective of those aspects.
The temptation to go back and photograph all the new buildings and features since then was great, but then I thought, no, this was a snapshot of Newcastle back in early 2007. It shows how towns and cities are evolving all the time like an inorganic organism … “Time, tide and evolving cities wait for no man”.
I think ‘kaleidoscope’ is a pretty good word to describe Newcastle. Kaleidoscope is based on three words from ancient Greek: 'Kalos' (beautiful), 'Eidos' (form) and 'Scopos' (watcher). So a kaleidoscope is a 'beautiful form watcher'. Apart from the obvious quip that could be made about looking at scantily clad young ladies, teetering around on their high heels, enjoying the voracious night life of the town, anyone walking around the city has simply to look up now and then and catch a glimpse of beautifully proportioned buildings with their exquisite domes, gable ends and cornices. Let their eye follow the roof line of the variety of fine structural profiles, both old and new, silhouetted against the background sky and they will know what I mean.