Great Exhibition Of The North



Antonia Quirke begins a new series about the cultural life of the modern north.

Series exploring the cultural life of the north of England.

A new four-part series marking the Great Exhibition of the North sets out to celebrate the cultural contribution made by the north of England across a range of artistic areas. Lauren Laverne will present a show about music, Degna Stone will look at the visual arts, Steph McGovern will tackle design, and in this first programme Antonia Quirke takes a road trip across the region to talk about cinema. She sets out with artist Richard Dedomenici (who will be shooting sections of 'Get Carter' as part of the Great Exhibition) to recreate some of the most famous scenes from northern films in their original locations - only on a phone and with no budget. Along the way she will meet up with directors Elaine Constantine, who was nominated for a BAFTA for her film 'Northern Soul', and also Francis Lee, whose 'God's Own Country' is a love story set in the beautifully bleak West Yorkshire hills. Antonia also hears how a major new screen school due to open in three years time offers hope to the next generation of would-be filmmakers looking to make their mark in the north of England.


Lauren Laverne celebrates the wealth and diversity of today's northern music scene.

Series exploring the cultural life of the north of England.

In the second part of Radio 4's series 'The Great Exhibition of the North', Lauren Laverne sets out to explore the music scene in the region today. This is, of course, a region whose musical past is rightly celebrated as one of the richest in the world - but the story of that past has been told often and at length.

In this programme, Lauren wants instead to celebrate what's going on now, and hear from acts who in some cases weren't even born when the likes of The Smiths and The Stone Roses were in their pomp. How closely do they associate themselves with an area no longer bound tightly together by heavy industry, how far is their creativity the thing filling the gap left behind, and how far is their geographic musical inheritance as much a suffocating curse as a blessing?

Lauren sets out to demonstrate that northern music is about much more than gloomy four-piece indie bands made up of young men staring at their feet, meeting artists from a range of different genres who are all contributing to a diverse and lively music scene.

They include PINS, an all female band from Manchester playing post-punk tunes powerful enough to attract Iggy Pop to collaborate with them; Skinny Pelembe, who was born in Johannesburg, then raised in Doncaster, and who is now one of the most exciting and unclassifiable performers in the country; the Young 'Uns, the much feted folk troupe from Stockton on Tees singing about a very modern north-east; Sara Lowes, who has composed a contemporary classical piece born from a residency with the inventors of graphene - and Maximo Park, whose collaboration with the Royal Northern Sinfonia will be played out across the River Tyne at the Great Exhibition's opening ceremony.


Steph McGovern explores the design on display at the Great Exhibition of the North.

Series exploring the cultural life of the north of England.

The Great Exhibition of the North is devoting a considerable amount of space and energy to promoting the region's proud connection with design, born out of its long manufacturing history in textiles and ceramics, for example, and being taken forward today by designers working in digital and virtual spaces as well as with more traditional materials.

Steph McGovern heads out to meet some of those designers, including leading figures in their respective industries as well as students whose degree show forms part of the Great Exhibition, and who will soon be setting out to make an impression in the professional world themselves.

Steph speaks with the designers at Hedgehog Lab who lead the field in virtual reality design, and who have created a virtual historical tour of the area on the back of Stephenson's Rocket. She also meets master tailor Brita Hirsch and Professor Kate Fletcher, to hear how Hirsch's Great Northern Cloth embodies some of the sustainable ideas that inform the modern design world across the board.

Steph also takes up the challenge laid down by the Exhibition organisers to design her own new product as part of the Get North Design Trail - and speaks with concept artist Matt Walker, whose many designs for TV and film include the Dr. Who sonic screwdriver, about how beauty and art are always vying with utility and function in all great design products.

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How artists at the Great Exhibition of the North are embracing its theme of innovation.

Series exploring the cultural life of the north of England.

In the final part of the Radio 4 series 'The Great Exhibition of the North', Degna Stone spends time at the exhibition itself to look at how some of the region's visual artists are embracing its broader themes of innovation and technology, making work that examines and celebrates the ways in which the north has stood both historically and in the present day at the forefront of technological discovery.

Ryan Gander, one of the most innovative artists at work today, watches on as his major new sculpture - 'a charm bracelet for a giant' obliquely representing northern inventions that emit light - is put in place on the banks of the River Tyne. Degna meets Purva Chawla and Adele Orcajada inside their geodesic dome, made up of scores of triangles made out of traditional textiles, as well as the most cutting edge materials such as graphene and self-healing concrete. These, they tell her, are art works in their own right, whose beauty shines in the space of Gateshead's Baltic Gallery. Degna also finds out how increased rents for young artists are, as in London previously, forcing them out of their studio spaces in cities like Manchester and Sheffield.

Finally Degna meets two of the area's most eminent artists - Turner prize winner Lubaina Himid and photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen - both of whom have, like her, made a home in the north, to hear why they have found it to be such an inspirational and productive place to base themselves.