In 2021, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art will be 50 years old, being the direct descendent of ‘Bookshop Gallery’ founded in 1969 and its successor Ceolfrith Arts Centre, later Northern Centre for Contemporary Art. Despite the changes in location and name, the gallery’s commitment to innovative, experimental art has been a constant.

During its fifty years it has given UK premieres to artists from Sean Scully to Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen, from Sam Taylor-Wood to Spartacus Chetwynd, and given the first UK shows to Cory Arcangel and Harun Farocki, several years before other galleries gave their achievements due recognition.

It is only in its current incarnation that the gallery has been able to acquire works from artists, in order to tell stories about the history of contemporary art as well as to create ‘news’. The exceptional generosity of artists we have worked with over the period has begun a collection of contemporary art for the city of Sunderland that now includes over a hundred works.

The gallery is also working closely with National Glass Centre to ensure that artists interested in working with glass are able to realise ambitious artists in new ways, working with world-leading makers based in the University of Sunderland.

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