This exhibition explores how art informs our experience of belonging.

A collage map of Newcastle, Gateshead, and the surrounding areas.


Until Saturday 30 November


Donations welcome, free entry

Barbour (watercolour) gallery

About the exhibition

The word ‘belonging’ comes from the Old English word langian, which forms the root of ‘longing’. It means a sense of powerful emotional attachment to ‘my place’, where I am ‘at home’, and implies a sense of permanence.

This exhibition highlights artworks from the Laing collection and explores the different forms of belonging. Geographical experiences of belonging are represented by local histories and landscapes. At first glance, maps appear scientific and trustworthy, but in the context of an exhibition, their status as an artwork – the product of human creation – is provoked.

Art can evidence things unseen – those invisible (and visible) bonds that connect us to objects, places, and people. The Laing collection contains myriad stories about artistic community – teacher and student, refuge from persecution, and friendship. These bonds unite us all as humans, as seen throughout history based on religion, legend, and myth. Hobbies and inherited tradition in both real and imagined space can inspire a sense of camaraderie.

The opposite of belonging is alienation. Artists use imagery in creative ways to explore this negative experience. Nostalgic reflections of a bygone or imagined era, or the capture of stilted body language and discomfiture. Artworks constitute tools through which we can discover ourselves in both positive and negative guises, and in discovering ourselves we can find our way home.

Artists include Norman Cornish, Layla Curtis, Rineke Dijkstra, Louisa Hodgson, Laura Knight, John Martin, Paula Rego, and Charlie Rogers.

This exhibition is curated in partnership with a Collaborative Doctoral Award student from Northumbria University.