Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas is Happening

Nowadays, anything that causes you to slow down, pause and to reflect, could generally be considered a good thing, especially during the busyness and excitement of the festive season.

The Christmas is Happening project, can easily be called good.

In its second year, the project presents a work of art and piece of music, for each day in December leading up to Christmas. It's an advent adventure, a beautiful gift for the masses, a reinchantment of Christmas to a disenchanted generation, through a fresh reinterpretation of old hymns and church music. It's the kingdom come.

If you haven't been following, you have today to catch up, and then ten more opportunities to pause and reflect until Christmas.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Advent Exhibition

Thanks again to everyone who came to the opening last Thursday evening! The word was that it was quite a busy night, with around four to five other openings around town. Check out some photos by Louise Todd

The show's up for about another week before it moves up to Wooler. Check out work by:

Richard Fish
Natasha Holland-Zacharova
Ben Johnson
Douglas Lamb
Dan Lawrence
Rachel Magdeburg
Philip Medley
Jeni Pringle
Joshua Tengan
Julia Tryon
Louise Todd

Stop by for a look or a chat and we'll make you a cup of tea!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Dancing in the Heavens

by Dominic White

In the past twenty years, dance has enjoyed an incredible revival in Britain. New dance schools have sprung up everywhere, including state-of-the-art Dance City in Newcastle. Ballet has always been strong in Britain, even if rather highbrow (or considered just something for little girls), but now all kinds of dance and movement are flowering, from contemporary and jazz to Latin and Zumba. Why?

Strictly Come Dancing is only part of the story. In culturally diverse modern Britain, ethnic communities for whom dance is a normal part of life have reminded us of what we’ve forgotten. And more generally, there is a desire to re-connect with the body. Many people’s working – and even social – lives are spent increasingly in front of a computer or mobile phone screen. Even prayer is too often seen as something that goes on just in the mind. The part of us which is our body has become neglected. At the same time, we have woken up to the need to eat and exercise healthily.

And some people are discovering dance as a profoundly spiritual experience. If you’ve ever danced, you’ll know that unless you are completely present to what you’re doing, you’re not really dancing. When we are completely present, rather than getting distracted by other things, we are much more sensitive to our environment. We actually start to see things as they are, and to sense their depth. Dance then leads into meditation. And as we move, blocks in our work, emotions and elsewhere in life start to shift as we begin to see things as they really are. Hence the Beat the Block class at the Holy Biscuit!

We might be surprised by how much dance is in the Bible. King David danced ecstatically before the Ark, losing all self-consciousness (2 Samuel 6.12-23, 1 Chronicles 15.29). The women dance when David returns victorious from battle (1 Samuel 18,6) as they did when the people of Israel escaped from slavery in Egypt across the Red Sea (Exodus 15.20). Psalms 149 and 150 call people to dance in praise of God. And the prophet Zephaniah tells Israel that “your God will dance for you with cries of joy” (Zp 3.17).

The Last Judgment, Fra Angelico

Dance could also be manipulative as well. It could seduce, like the dance of Salome which led to the death of John the Baptist (Matt 14.3-11; Mark 6.17-28), or be part of an orgiastic, idolatrous and possibly occult ritual like the dance around the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). But St. Gregory of Nyssa, a prominent Christian theologian of the fourth century, remembered another tradition. According to him, there was a time when the whole of creation was united in dancing to the step of its leader, the Word of God. This recalls a similar tradition known by Philo, a Jewish philosopher contemporary with Jesus. Gregory continues that when humankind sinned, they fell from dancing with the angels. But through Christ, we and the whole of creation are restored to the heavenly dance.

This is not just a flight of pious fancy. The Methodist Biblical scholar Margaret Barker has reminded us that in the Bible, angels and stars were the same: the “morning stars” sang at the creation of the world (Job 38.7). The seven stars are the angels of the Seven Churches (Revelation 1.16,20). The fallen angels, or demons, are stars fallen to earth (Rev 6.13; 20.1). For the ancients, the movement of the stars in the night sky was a choreographed dance. Even though we now know the stars are fixed, it is still the case that the planets move in orbits. If these orbits become disturbed, freak weather and other cosmic upheavals can result. Perhaps this is why the Letter of Jude calls false spiritual teachers “wandering stars” (Jude 13).

And this cosmos inhabited by dancing angels and wandering demons is a cosmos now in labour, awaiting redemption and the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8.21). The same Christ who has humbled himself in descending “is the same who has ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things” (Ephesians 4.10). We dance through that Cosmos, rising and ascending with Christ.

Noli Me Tangere, Fra Angelico

This is why our medieval ancestors danced at Easter on the labyrinths of their cathedrals: it was so that things should be according to the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven”. It is why Fra Angelico painted the risen Christ dancing, and the blessed dancing in heaven. When this was forgotten, the holiness of the Easter dances was lost, descended into lewdness and was banned. Now that we have remembered this tradition of spiritual dance, let us dance again with the angels, grieving for an earth we have wounded, we who have become poor because of our greed, and because we have forgotten the body which is as much made in God’s image as the soul. As in faith we dance with the risen Christ, let us wonder as he heals us and our earth, as we build through him a new heaven and a new earth.

Fr. Dominic White is a dancer, musician, writer, poet, and Dominican Friar, living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1999, he founded Cosmos Dance, a project that explores the intersections between art, spirituality, and the environment. Dominic leads Beat the Block, a weekly dance and movement class at the Holy Biscuit.

Come and join us for the Beat the Block class at The Holy Biscuit – Thursdays 3.45-4.15 pm, and, from 29th November Tuesdays 6.30-7 pm. Only £2.50!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

ADVENT: Mark Your Calendars

Flyers for the Advent exhibition are finding their way around town today and tomorrow. The exhibition, opening December 1, will explore the theme of Advent, and will feature work by Newcastle-based artists and artists from around England. Works from the exhibition will then travel to the town of Wooler, for an exhibition, in collaboration with The Northumbria Community, from December 16-18.

There is still time to submit work for this exhibition. So if you are interested, you can find more details here, and please do not hesitate to send us an email:

Join us for a free Preview and Christmas celebration on Thursday, December 1st, from 6-8pm. In addition to the art, the night will feature music by local musicians, Skylark Song and Aurora Stands in Snow.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Todd Selby + Christine Sun Kim

Nowness and cult-photographer Todd Selby, are to thank for this beautiful film-portrait of the performance artist, Christine Sun Kim. Kim was born deaf. She explores the realms of sound, communication and identity, through performance, using sound--a medium she is not privy to in its most fundamental sense. "It's a lot more interesting to explore a medium that I don't have direct access to and yet has the most direct connection to society at large," says Kim. "Social norms surrounding sound are so deeply ingrained, that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without it."

In the film, Selby shows Kim creating her seismic calligraphy drawings, in which she uses the vibrations of sound, to create visual representations of itself. For ambient film score, Selby worked with sound designer Arrow Kleeman. The result is something unique and we'll leave it at that.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Made By Hand: The Knife Maker

Made By Hand is a Brooklyn-based film series that highlights craftsmen and craftswomen of the handmade movement, a movement that is spreading in Brooklyn and in cities around the world. Creator/director, Keith Ehrlich, and his team, create films that aim at promoting craft that is made locally and sustainably.

Film no.2, The Knife Maker, writer turned knife maker, Joel Bukiewicz, shares the inspiring story of his creative journey. In the film he talks about creative offerings, art and craft, and the human element of making quality beautiful objects. He says:
It takes buckets of blood, and get competent. And then once you become competent, maybe you have what it takes to become and artist, maybe you don't. Before you get to a place where you can actually make art with the skills you learn, you have to master the basics.... It takes a lot of work to get there, and when you get there, that's day one. Then you can start to make something you can maybe call art.
Share your thoughts and comments.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Call For Entries: Advent Exhibition

The Holy Biscuit in Newcastle upon Tyne seeks art in two and three dimensions, for upcoming exhibitions in Wooler and at The Holy Biscuit art space, in the month of December, exploring the themes of Advent.

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation. For the Faithful, it is to commemorate the coming of the Messiah and the anticipation of His return. For the Western consumer it is the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the festive season. For some it is both. For some it is neither.

Submission Fee: £5
Gallery Commission: 30%
Submission Deadline: Friday, November 25, 2011
Provisional Exhibition Preview: Thursday, December 1, 2011

Please do not hesitate to contact us through any of our various means of social media outlets, if you are interested in particpiating in the exhibition, or if you have any questions.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Turner Prize + Hilary Lloyd

Saturday, November 26, the Holy Biscuit Community and Morphe Arts will come together for an arts day in Newcastle, surrounding two significant exhibitions: the Turner Prize at the BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art and the Young Artists of the Year Award, held at the Biscuit Factory/THB.

At 2:00pm, we will listen to a lecture by video artist, Hilary Lloyd at the BALTIC, the last in a series of lectures by the four short-listed candidates (Lloyd, Karla Black, Martin Boyce, and George Shaw).

Lloyd was nominated for the Prize for her January exhibition at London's acclaimed Raven Row, an exhibition three years in the making, where each of her five video works occupied its own room in the gallery.

Lloyd was born in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1964, and currently lives and works in London. She studied Fine Art at Newcastle Polytechnic, now Northumbria University, and graduated in 1987. She (presumably) returns to Newcastle, as opening festivities for the Turner Prize Exhibition begin this week.


Papergirl Newcastle + Novel Magazine

Papergirl Newcastle from Krishna Muthurangu on Vimeo.

The team at Novel Magazine recently produced a video documenting Papergirl Newcastle's debut.

The project launched on August 11th with an exhibition at Settle Down Cafe. The project included over 400 works created by roughly 70-80 artists. After a two-week exhibition period, all of the work was freely distributed to Newcastle-pedestrians by a local team of papergirls and paperboys.

Papergirl, which began in Berlin in 2006, was birthed out of a desire to make art more accessible to the public. Art student, Aisha Ronniger, along with her peers, were brainstorming new ways of making art available to larger audiences, in response to Berlin's crackdown on pasting posters in public spaces, equating the act to graffiti and vandalism. The idea of distributing art to the masses via bicycle, à la American paperboys, came up and thus began Papergirl.

For over five years, the project has encouraged important discussions on art: its commodification, transformative power, and accessibility. The project has gone international, to cities like Cape Town, Bucharest, Sao Paolo, San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, and New York. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


As we begin a new year, we are starting this new platform for discussion, which will provide a forum for exciting discussion and interaction with the growing community around THB. This is specifically in response to the desire by the Methodist Church in Newcastle to facilitate a creative Christian presence in the art scene in Newcastle and the North East.

The journal will feature articles that review and critically engage with artistic and cultural events, including art exhibitions, gigs, films and pop-up events, hoping to provide a Christian perspective and prophetic voice into the wealth of creativity that is currently exploding in Tyneside. We hope to include articles by professional creative practitioners, theologians, philosophers and emerging artists, most of whom are based in the North East.

Finally, we hope to document some of the exciting things that are happening in our space over the year as well as showcasing the work of some of North East's emerging talent and promoting some of the projects they are currently involved with. We are looking for people to submit articles, reviews, reflections and just general comments.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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