The Shipley Art Gallery opened in 1917, the bequest Joseph Shipley, a local solicitor. His art collection was offered to Gateshead, with £30,000 to build a new gallery. A selection of over 500 oil paintings and watercolours was made to create the gallery’s initial permanent collection, known as the Shipley Bequest. It included 18th and 19th century British paintings and works of the Continental Schools including Italian, German, Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Since 1917 the collection has continued to grow, with important acquisitions including Charles Eastlake’s ‘Ruth and Boaz’, Balen’s ‘Moses Striking the Rock’ and the National Art Collections Fund’s gift of David Teniers’ ‘Tavern Scene’ in 1985. Decorative art collections have been acquired, in particular the large collection of pressed glass from Gateshead’s Soweby’s and Davidson’s factories.
In 1977 the Shipley began collecting contemporary craft made in Britain. This collection numbers almost 400 objects and includes works in wood, metal, glass, ceramic and textile. The Henry Rothschild collection of studio ceramics features all major makers and studios working in studio ceramics during the 20th century in the UK. Over the last 25 years the venue has become established as a national centre for contemporary craft and has built up one of the best collections outside London.
Originally from the Marches, Olivia Gwyne is a poet and prose writer who has been based in the North East for over a decade. Currently a studying for a MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, her principal interests are identity, representation and art. Olivia’s writing is concerned with how we construct our identity as individuals within our own lives and within wider society.