NEWS: BALTIC & Travelling Gallery, What's for Tea?

As part of a series of projects marking its twentieth anniversary year, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead takes a new exhibition to communities across the North East of England in Travelling Gallery, a custom-built mobile art gallery.

Running until June 2022, the tour will pack up the whole BALTIC experience; an exhibition, informative talks, artist-led workshops, fun and friendly conversation and free hospitality; and de-camp to locations across the North East region, from Birtley to Blyth, Chopwell to Consett and Alnwick to Ashington.

The mobile exhibition, What’s for Tea? will be housed inside a custom-built mobile art gallery as BALTIC partners with the Scotland-based organisation Travelling Gallery to journey to communities far and wide. It will return to base for BALTIC’s 20th Birthday Celebration Weekend as the bus parks up outside the gallery on Baltic Square on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July 2022.

On Saturdays from March through to June, between 12noon-4pm the bus will be stationed at a different community centre, civic project, hospital, garden or car park to host a free programme of artist-led workshops, foraging walks and exhibition tours with BALTIC’s friendly Crew team. There will be free food and drinks, echoing the complimentary / donations-welcome offer in ‘Front Room’ in the building at BALTIC Gateshead. The activities will be suitable for families, children and young people and all are welcome to turn up, whether the bus is visiting nearby or for anyone who wishes to travel to where it visits. Through the weeks in term time it will visit selected schools across the region.

The exhibition title comes from the age-old question which Northern residents get quizzed on daily by friends, family and partners, “What’s for tea?”, referring to their main/evening meal of the day. What’s for Tea? will reference BALTIC’s building history as a working flour mill, opened in 1950 by Rank Hovis. It will explore food production and consumption; what we eat, how much we eat and how our eating habits could help combat the climate emergency. Works by Isabella Carreras, Kara Chin, Turner Prize-nominated duo Cooking Sections, artist collective Future Farmers, Asunción Molinos Gordo, Julia Heslop, David Lisser and Sarah Qaed will explore sustainable food production and community initiatives through film, installation, sculpture, print and the written word.

Information on the artists’ work

Originally a working flour mill opened in 1950 by Rank Hovis, BALTIC’s history as a key part of one of Britain’s largest milling and bakery companies is explored by Newcastle-based artist Julia Heslop’s new commission. Heslop’s work invites participants to travel back in time by choosing from a selection of grains to be hand-milled into flour. Joseph Rank encouraged research into crustacea farming, seed and cereal production and wheat hybrids. He also pioneered protein production from starch and established a joint venture with Marlow Foods which created the meat substitute product Quorn.

David Lisser’s work addresses the fine line between appetite Vs disgust when presented with familiarity in both digitally constructed realities and mimicked meat products. How does particular CGI manipulation in food photography and advertising have a direct impact on the final product of processed food?

Cooking Sections will continue their Turner Prize-nominated project, Becoming CLIMAVORE that invites people to consider how adapting eating habits has the potential to directly contribute to combatting the climate emergency. In November 2021 BALTIC replaced salmon dishes from its menu with seaweed and shellfish varieties that positively impact increasingly fragile sea ecologies. In What’s for Tea?, Cooking Sections will continue to connect with local heritage stories which represent and reflect the contemporary aims and benefits behind becoming a CLIMAVORE.

Throughout lockdown many self-soothed with baking, growing plants, cooking and crafts. While these are activities associated with self-care, nostalgia and slowness, they were rejuvenated out of forced circumstances. Kara Chin’s work Bread, Hands, House, explores this new-found reconnection with baking. Asunción Molinos Gordo’s work Answer Phone will see visitors aboard the bus and enter into a subversive roleplay in a seemingly never-ending process of answer phone referrals. Spotlighting the unseen admin of small and medium scale farmers, the work considers how contemporary agricultural policies affect farmer’s production and craft. Alongside this will be gardening and foraging workshops as BALTIC connects to local farming, foraging and fishing communities.

Artist Isabella Carreras worked with participants of BALTIC’s ongoing Art Lab community project during the various lockdowns on Zoom. They played games, made art and tried new activities around cooking, recipes, play and activism. For this mobile exhibition they will be offering co-designed costumes to accompany games, foraging walks and outdoor exploring that visitors to the bus will be invited to take part in. Futurefarmers will present an amalgamation of heritage grain stories, maps and seed vessels, created in collaboration with Sunderland-based glass artist Kalki Mansel and California based writer Elia Vargas. This will explore contemporary and historical farming methods and stories, gathered from their ambitious cross-continental project Seed Journey (2016-17).