North East artistic great Thomas Bewick on the menu at restaurant

Thomas Bewick is celebrated at Gateshead Civic Centre's restaurant with the Bewick & Back: Wildlife, Walks and Art exhibition

A restaurant named after North East engraver and naturalist Thomas Bewick is now serving up a helping of his works to diners and passers-by.

An exhibition titled Bewick & Back: Wildlife, Walks and Art has been opened by Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry next to the Bewick restaurant at the town’s Civic Centre.

One of the aims is to introduce more people in what is a busy public place to Bewick’s illustrations, especially from his books on birds and quadrupeds.

Bewick was born at Cherryburn, near Mickley in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland and had his workshop in Newcastle, but lived for many years in Gateshead, near the site of the Civic Centre.

The exhibition, which will run until November 21, is part of the wider Bewick and Back project, which has received grant of £9,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project is co-ordinated by the University of Sunderland’s WALK research group assisted by the Bewick Society, the Natural History Society of Northumbria and Gateshead Council.

An exhibition of work by Thomas Bewick at Gateshead Civic Centre
An exhibition of work by Thomas Bewick at Gateshead Civic Centre

It has involved leading groups on four walks, covering the riverside route from Gateshead to Cherryburn and then crossing the Tyne and walking back to Newcastle.

The idea was to explore the landscape which Bewick knew and for participants to produce responses in poetry, prose, painting and photography.

There will be a second art exhibition called In Response to Bewick  in the gallery space of Gateshead Civic Centre from January 21 to March 31 next year.

There will also be a talk on Thursday, November 13 in the Lamesley Room at Gateshead Civic about the life and work of Thomas Bewick by the chairman of the Bewick Society, Peter Quinn .  The walks were led by artist Marcia Ley, a lecturer at the University of Sunderland, and Rowlands Gill natural historian Keith Bowey, who runs Glead Ecological & Environmental Services.

Keith said: “Thomas Bewick was one of the true geniuses of the North East. He is one of the giants of natural history and the exhibition in what is a very public place will help more people to appreciate his work.

“On the walks we saw some amazing wildlife, including seals on three of the stretches and an otter on the walk from Newburn to Newcastle. These are sights with which Bewick would have been familiar.”

Dr Mike Collier, Reader in Fine Art at the University of Sunderland and part of the Walking, Art, Landscape and Knowledge research centre (WALK), said: “The lottery award allows us to do some really interesting and exciting things around the theme of walking in a landscape, in order to get people involved in better understanding Thomas Bewick’s heritage. 


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