Autonomous Grace | James Newrick

EXHIBITION | 2nd - 11th February 2018

Gallery opening times:
Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th February 12pm – 5pm
Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th February 12pm – 5pm

Preview: Friday 2nd February 6pm – 9pm

I struggle to keep up, down a tight corridor decked out with Pirelli rubber and walnut panelling, at the end of the corridor we both enter a small, partially disguised elevator. The floor is fitted with a piece of tired crushed velvet, still proudly depicting the civic insignia. The interior walls are lined with a solid steel lattice and remind me of a crooner’s old ribbon microphone. It smells like oil and old static.

Moving beyond postwar utopian ideals of a city for the people we see the receding backbone; Newcastle Civic Centre. Originally conceived as a symbol of prosperity, built to defend local identity through collaborative design and principle. The building has divided opinion since it’s Royal opening in 1967. Viewed as progressive, iconic and engaging to some and to others as an unjustified expense or selfish punt into the architecture of propaganda.

Autonomous Grace is an exhibition of work that concerns the social and psychological responses to the changing fabric of a city. Focussing on the civic centre’s protected yet discretely changing interior, it examines the effect that architectural design through elements such as light, space and materials, can have on our mood and behaviour.

As our cities yield to both the predictability and uncertainty associated with privately owned and conditioned public spaces, the work presents the viewer with an evolving set of issues to consider in regards to purpose and preservation. It also raises questions about our public lives and the spaces we want to inhabit.

Autonomous Grace is part of an ongoing body of work relating to exploration of the built environment. It has been created in response to several months spent in and around Newcastle Civic Centre.

James Newrick is a photographer/ film maker living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne


The former 36 Lime Street Gallery was established in 2009 as an artist run space to provide a platform for emerging and established artists to experiment and take risks with new work. Selected by committee from an open call, 8 proposals are selected and exhibited throughout the year.

The gallery space continues to provide a platform as 36.