One of my friends recently said that Newcastle has a severely neglected creative industry. And, really, as much as I’d like to think otherwise, she was right. But, as I’ve written about in the past, just because it isn’t situated at the forefront of people’s minds doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. 

This is where Raw Newcastle comes in.

A good friend of mine invited me to see her work on display during the Raw exhibition, at Central, one of the hipster bars located in the centre of Newcastle. While I was definitely there to support my friend and her extraordinary talent, I was also curious: what does an art exhibition look like when it’s inside a bar?

As it turns out, it looks like lots of beer and wine, and a throng of guests inching slowly throughout a myriad of local works. Think a mix of floristry, a collection of Star Wars paintings, children’s books, photography of scenery from local spots, illustrations, even shabby chic wall frames with tiny hanging flowers, all displayed to the background of local entertainers and musicians.

I spent a majority of the night on the second floor, meaning that I had a relatively okay vantage point for viewing the proceedings (alternating between watching performances and the backs of people’s heads). Low lighting around the main walkways meant that each artistic work had both the literal and metaphorical spotlight on them. The constant hum of voices gave the venue a sense of activity and warmth - a stark contrast to the silence and chill from the street outside. With a glass of red in hand, and a very relaxed atmosphere … suffice to say I had a good time.

  My view of the exhibition.

My view of the exhibition.

But what is ‘Raw’, and how does it relate to Newcastle’s creative industry?

It’s a travelling exhibition. And, when I say travelling, I’m talking internationally - Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The main aim behind it is to give a spotlight to local talent, encompassing art, music, beauty, film and even entertainment. 

The tricky thing is that while Raw is fantastic for highlighting some of the great creative talent in Newcastle, the exhibition wasn’t necessarily something that was broadcasted heavily throughout any of the media channels that I frequent - save for the fact that I knew one of the artists. Looking beyond just the creative industry in Newcastle, despite having an awareness of community events since my university days, it can be a challenge to find out about them unless you’ve been exposed to some of those events through personal connections.

So what’s on my calendar for the next while?

17th - 25th September: Newcastle China Week

29th September - 2nd October: This is Not Art

13th - 14th October: DiG Festival


But, dear reader, this is where I need your input. Write in the comments below about the local events I should have on my calendar!