I recently spent an arty day around Ouseburn, including eats and drinks of course! There’s a lot going on down here and it’s getting better all the time.
I start off at The Biscuit Factory. This contemporary art gallery is housed in a former Victorian biscuit manufacturing warehouse and many of the original and characterful facets of the building such as the beams and brickwork were maintained. It’s absolutely stunning inside. An upper floor was added which provides a wonderful atrium and allows natural daylight to flood through the centre of the gallery.
The gallery showcases local and national artists, able to display the work of over 250 artists at any time. They exhibit and sell original paintings, handmade prints, glass, ceramics, textiles, photography, furniture, design led homewares and jewellery. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of treasures. You can spend hours in here just browsing. They regularly hold events too so make sure to check out their website.
The Corbridge-based Forum Books also has a pop up bookshop on the found floor, featuring more than 200 top reads, collaborating each season on a programme of exclusive author talks and book signings. It’s just as cute as the original book shop in Corbridge so if you love books, you will love this wee popup.
Next I head upstairs to the Factory Kitchen for some food. As it’s a sunny day I choose to sit out on the rooftop terrace which has fantastic views of the Ouseburn Valley from up here. It’s the perfect place to catch a relaxing spot of brunch all year round and the food is delicious too; I always get eggs benedict. I try to order something else for brunch every time but I don’t want to miss out haha!
After a scrumptious brunch, I walk down to Lime Street and pop into the Jim Edwards studio. The artist is known for his depictions of iconic buildings and bridges of the North East. His work falls into either contemporary cityscapes or abstract paintings. I absolutely love his work and you can buy cards and postcards here too if you can’t stretch to the purchase of your fave painting. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you love the impressive architecture of our city.
Perusing art is thirsty work so my next stop is at Kiln. It’s an industrial Mediterranean streetfood cafe with a contemporary pottery studio and is based at Unit 4, Hume Street. It’s a bar and kitchen serving freshly prepared meals, coffees and soft and alcoholic drinks. I order homemade lemonade from the lemonade stand and sit outside to soak up the sun. A perfect drink on a sunny day. Once drinks are finished I head next door to check out the pottery and ceramics workshop. They are still getting up to speed after the lockdown to replenish their stock. All of the ceramics used in the cafe are crafted here and available to purchase. As they say on their website ‘Food, drinks and pottery. What’s not to love?’
There is a lot of cool art and graffiti all around Ouseburn, so I wander for a while so that I can explore some of the creative walled designs. You just never know what you are going to find!
Lastly, I stop by Ernest cafe for a few drinks and a meet up with friends. This is a fabulous independent cafe bar situated at the top end of the Ouseburn. Ernest was set up and run by artists, makers and designers and most of the people working at Ernest also create lots of stuff when not serving coffees and making food! It has a really chilled vibe with indoor and outdoor seating and so it’s become one of my favourite places.
They also have their little brother around the back (Ernie’s) which is a takeout, shop and deli and much of the stock is local or handmade by small producers. It’s the cutest shop ever! Their aim is to be a cross between a wholefood corners hop, farmers market, deli and bakery and so it’s very unique.
I’m feeling suitably fed, watered and cultured at the end of my arty day out in Ouseburn and this trip only scratches the surface. Ouseburn is growing all the time and it makes a lovely change to visit it’s cool, laid back cafe bars and see some amazing works of art by local people, all on the same day and in the same location. I hope you have fun if you plan an arty day out here too. Let me know in the comments below if you have a favourite cafe bar or art stop you visit all the time, I’d love to hear about it.