FREE and open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm, Side is dedicated to showing the best in humanist documentary photography: rich, powerful and challenging work engaged with people’s lives and landscapes, telling stories that often get marginalised, whether they are from the North East of England or anywhere else in the world.
If you want to get an idea of what that means, have a look at the work from the AmberSide Collection on this website – much of it comes from the exhibitions Side has shown, acquired and commissioned over the past 40 years. And much of the rest has been produced by Amber film & photography collective.
Over recent years, the creative line between photography and video in documentary has blurred – in our new gallery spaces you’ll often find exhibitions moving between the two. You’ll also be able to see small exhibitions of the work coming out of Amber’s learning & participation projects.
A study centre for individuals and small groups in Side Gallery and for groups of up to 50 at Side Cinema – with access to even more material; Full gallery accessibility and enhanced exhibition spaces in which we can continue to show the best in documentary photography; Film, photography and curatorial projects in communities and schools across the North East.
What you can do
On the ground floor we have a new library for our collection of film and photography books and magazines – and on site digital access to the AmberSide Collection. On our free study centre screens you will be able be able to access higher resolution photographic imagery, Amber’s films and, as our digitisation programme moves forward, some material we are not able to put online. Gallery staff and volunteers will be on hand to help, whether you want to look at films and photography about your own community, you’re a researcher, you want to follow up on a body of work you might have seen in the gallery or you’re just interested in wandering the highways and byways of our unique collection. We also have a small shop where you can buy books, DVDs, posters and cards.
A bit of history
The Amber collective came together in 1968. It moved into these premises in 1971 and bought both sides of the alleyway in 1975, when the landlord was selling up and trying to evict them. The collective opened Side Gallery in 1977, because there wasn’t a venue in Newcastle, at the time, which would show the documentary work it was producing. In 1978 the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson celebrated his 70th birthday with a retrospective at Side. The catalogue of photographers who have shown here since is remarkable. Our recent redevelopment works enable us to build on this over the next 10, 20, 40 years.
We’re always keen to look at work. We look for quality of imagery and narrative – we show work we believe is visually strong, which is about something which we believe matters. And we only show documentary! Again, look at the collection if you’d like to get an idea of what we show. Contact us in the usual way – or just drop in and see us. Please don’t send original prints.
Our new physical and digital accessibility (including this website) together with the new galleries and our new archive facilities have been made possible with the support of Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. The current season has been supported by Arts Council England, Newcastle Culture Investment Fund and Garfield Weston Foundation.