Abstract Art Works Sparked by Jazz Fest; Improvisation, Art and All That Jazz. Barbara Hodgson Meets the Fast-Painting Gina Southgate - and Casts Her Eye over Two More Thought-Provoking Exhibitions in Newcastle

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PUT a three-day event, 15 musicians and one artist together and what do you get? The answer is a remarkable 41 art works - all the work of one, rather tired, painter.

Gina Southgate's vibrant, fast and furious works are currently on show at Newcastle Arts Centre in newly-opened exhibition From The Outside - named after the jazz festival which took place in Gateshead from October 9-11.

The concept of the international festival of improvised music, arranged by Jazz North East, is to spark off musical interaction in a new setting, in this case the Old Town Hall.

And Gina was invited along to capture it all - and I mean all - in its hectic, colourful glory.

The London-based artist created the 33 large-scale and eight smaller acrylics during the course of the long weekend, as and when the musician sessions took place.

She tells me: "I brought my kit up with me on the train and they built me a 'studio' in an area to the left of stage and when they started, I started. I was effectively painting for around 13-14 hours over that weekend.

"Everything was made in that time, while the musicians were playing and I didn't touch it afterwards. It's how I work when I'm working with musicians, although I work on landscapes in the same way."

While the abstract work she does in her London studio is often ongoing, she enjoys these 'of the moment' challenges. And the music.

The jazz and improvised music scene has been a big part of her life over the past 30 years. She's also married to a saxophone player.

Gina first became interested in the imagery of musical instruments when a metalwork student. After first working in metal, she wanted to up the pace to a faster medium.

And so her real-time art was born.

This exhibition, she says, is not just an art show; she wanted to show the jazz festival in its entirety. That was the point, after all.

"It was hard to fit it all in but I didn't want to leave anything out," she says. The non-stop event may have been tiring but it proved fruitful.

The exhibition, which runs until November 14, captures the festival's very energy and movement.

"I love the colour of the double basses and the guitars," says Gina. "It got very frenetic and I kind of work with that energy."

If that exhibition leaves you in the mood for more check out the Laing Art Gallery where Sir Anthony Caro's sculpture Early One Morning is on show in the Marble Hall. …


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