Last weekend, I met up with some friends in Newcastle for an art crawl. I missed the first half due to sloth, but eventually caught up with everyone at The Old George Inn, just off the Bigg Market. This is the oldest pub in Newcastle and was once a favourite of King Charles I back in the 17th century. It now does a very good pint of Bass and a rather less exciting chicken baguette and chips. One of the party did however have a Toffee Apple Meltdown, which sounds more like a 60s psychedelic group than a dessert but still looked pretty tasty to me.
After lunch, it was off to the Hatton Gallery to see Kurt Schwitters' 'Merz Barn'. This is the largest surviving Dada artwork in the world and was moved here by Richard Hamilton (who sadly died recently) back in 1965. Personally, I prefer Schwitters' Merz pictures, but the barn is an impressive artefact in its own right, consisting of (you guessed it) a barn with added detritus. The Hatton is also one of the hosts for this year's International Print Biennale 2011 Print Awards and had some intriguing works on show, though for me, the real juice was the display of old 50s and 60s exhibition posters from the Hatton Archive. There's an energy to these works, which all benefit from being hand-printed posters with a Situationist vibe produced on a shoestring.
We finished off with an extended trip around Newcastle's surviving record shops. I find these places a bit dreary to be honest, as they just feel like museums to former glories rather than nerve centres of a happening scene, but maybe I'm just getting old. We did however see the most impressive work of the day, a signed poster of George Best going for a mere £350. Now that's what I call art!