North of Tyne Under the Stars

Newcastle upon Tyne March 10 – 13, 2022

It’s not often that I look at popularised works of art that are currently running, however, having seen photographs of this particular installation online, I was intrigued enough to go into the city centre to view the spectacle myself as it was occurring. As I got to the city centre, I looked for the first artwork ‘Hyem’ (Geordie word for Home) on the University campus, It did not take long to find.

Hyem – NOVAK

From where I entered the walking route around the six installations, it appeared that we had arrived at the wrong end of the ‘carpet’. Whilst traversing the ‘carpet’ it was noted that there were little in the river among the ever-changing picturescape that were moving, there were people following them.


Down at the other end, there was a magpie casually greeting me, and whilst walking down through the changing picturesque presentation which was being projected onto the floor it had completely changed so that it was showing this phrase picked out on a banner. On their Facebook page, Novak describes their presentation as “Hyem (Geordie, HOME) examines and celebrates the culture and identity of the North of Tyne via an array of visual iconography and sonic interpretations, with each designer exploring a selection of different themes, bringing their own unique style to this eclectic tapestry.”1

Take Me to the River – Imitating The Dog

Take me to the River was the festival offering from Imitating the Dog, they created an adventure using a child and some accompanying friends as they took a trip right through Northumbria from the Tweed to the Tyne, complete with archival footage of our beautiful Northumbria as a backdrop to some of their antics.

Take me to the river – Imitating the dog

The grand adventure which they go on is projected onto the old buildings directly above Blackwells Bookshop in Newcastle. Between the animation and the use of old video building a historic tale of Northumbria in the background, the adventure is marvellous.

Meadow Wall – Limbic Cinema

The meadow wall, projected onto the side of the old city baths by Limbic Cinema was a unique installation. It felt quite psychedelic in places, especially when the scene rushed towards the viewer in order to create a new canvas for the next scene. The depictions of animals that wouldn’t normally be found in the city, but live nearby were great – Squirrel, deer, otter and others. There was a poem by Rowan McCabe which was a part of the accompanying soundtrack for this installation, but the point that made this a unique experience in my opinion was the idea of having people projected live within the artwork using two video stalls set up close by to image them. This one really was a unique installation piece.

The Zoetrope – Illuminos

This Zoetrope for me was the absolute star of the show. It was so detailed, so impressive and the music which went alongside it was just amazing. As the zoetrope spun, different scenes from Northumbrian history were projected onto the civic centre of Newcastle. I’m going to link directly to a video tweet from Illumnos Twitter account in case anyone hasn’t seen it. I watched this installation a full three times, and I’m going to take a guess at what I think the content was.
The first spin of the zoetrope brought us, Emperor Hadrian with the burning baskets of bread possibly symbolising the end of Rome.
The second spin brought birds flying freely over a peaceful Hadrian’s wall, followed by Vikings invading and illuminations that look as though they would be from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The next spin brings the Silver Swan, followed by Swan’s electric lightbulb and the Lit and phil too.

Spin four of the zoetrope changes one of the seahorses from Newcastle’s coat of arms into the carousel ride most probably an image of the annual fair, the Hoppings. This is quickly followed by Stephenson’s rocket and by the safety lantern for miners.
The final spin on the zoetrope brought up a turbine, then the turbinia, the first ship propelled by one, followed by gears.

The effect of the whole installation was just glorious, it demonstrated the determination, skill, enthusiasm and above all hard work of people from Northumbria.

I purposely chose not to feature Heinrich and Palmer’s offering Anthro Zoo as I couldn’t take a picture of the installation which could do it justice. It was a beautiful display.

The Storyweaver

This last installation which was viewed, The Storyweaver, was like watching stories magically narrated and visualised in a magic mirror, it was like something out of a fairy tale as opposed to reality. The use of fire in front of the stage warmed up the atmosphere a bit as people both stood, and sat, watching with rapt attention while the mirror told tales of local history and folklore.

1. Facebook photograph from Novak, 11 March 2021 Also





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