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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Country For Old Buildings

Today I had a date with Debra over in Gateshead to see No Country For Old Men at the Tyneside Cinema. Whilst its home in Newcastle is being refurbished the operation of the cinema has been transferred to the old Town Hall.

Gateshead is a strange place that always feels in a state of flux whenever I visit. The town centre seems as though it is forever being redeveloped, pedestrianised, re-contoured and regenerated. As soon as you step out of the concrete and glass box Metro station, you're confronted with the 19th, 20th and 21st Century competing for attention.

Just around the corner, a stroll past what used to be the old Jackson Street Co-operative Society (where I once worked in the early 70's). Though now a dismembered hulk - a far cry from its once-swish department store modernity, it is still breathing but only just.

to another "centre" that is now cordoned off and waiting demolition...

One famous denizen waiting for the chop is the multi-story car park, featured in Get Carter, with which I have a historical performance art connection.

On the other side of the road we get a glimpse of what made the civic planners bristle with pride back in the mid-80s, when this frankly plug-ugly lump of public art was deposited upon the populace.
In a way these two civic homunculus deserve each other, slugging it out for the possession of hearts and minds, but in reality alienating those they come into contact with.

In Gateshead, even the skies seem tired today, heavy and lumbering toward dusk...

The approach to the old town hall is interesting. What was once quite literally the civic centre of the town has been relegated to an island surrounded by lanes of traffic.

And now, the main feature...

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