Newcastle & Gateshead

The Newcastle and Gateshead Schools Linking Programme is led and facilitated by the Laing Art Gallery, for Newcastle City Council and the Shipley Art Gallery for Gateshead City Council. We launched the programme in the Summer Term 2018 with 14 classes engaging in a summer link funded by BSBT supported by The Linking Network and Newcastle City Council;  Gateshead joined us a year later.  There has been a lot of interest and the programme has been well received with local schools.

We are now excited to be recruiting schools for Linking in 2022-23, please get in touch if you are interested in joining us!

Our usual model of Linking starts before the paired classes meet;  the Laing and Shipley learning team go into the linking schools to deliver assemblies; to talk about friendship, acceptance and making new friends, and to introduce the project to the whole school. In the classroom, classes tare part in activities that explore themes around identity and belonging, as well as exchanging postcards, letters and videos with their Linking partners.

During the pandemic, we started our neutral venue visits at the Laing and Shipley Art Galleries; taking part in circle games to get to know each other.  Our art activity was focussed on ‘Living Together’ and ‘Our Dream World’; pairs discussed their dream worlds and finding out all the wonderful things they had in common – they then designed and made their own dream world together. These worlds were then photographed and generated into postcards for the schools to send to each other and keep as a memento. Each group had a go at all of the art activities and all of the gallery games. Read more about Hadrian and Belford schools meeting for the first time .

Take a look at these 3D maps, inspired by sense of place and imaginary worlds; we love what the children from Brighton Avenue Primary School and St Agnes Primary created together on their visit.

After CPD, teachers felt prepared for linking and spoke of the positive effects of linking:  “I think I do have a greater understanding of how to talk to children about controversial or sensitive topics especially through the use of the books or the resources through the website given”    “… the children were first of all shy and apprehensive but very quickly became familiar with one another as the day progressed.”  

We enjoyed working with the children online, but we have been very excited to welcome them back  to the galleries and work with us again. The children have been engaged, developing their analytical skills and looking for clues in the colours used, noticing how portraits can tell us a story, they loved being ‘Art Detectives’ and investigating images that linked to History NC,  exploring what is in the paintings and what those things may mean.  They had lots of fun comparing facial expressions in images too and then enjoyed trying to pull their own!  Afterwards, the children were enthusiastic to begin their project and thought carefully about what clues they could put in their portrait to represent themselves as unique individuals.  Here are some of our cheering lockdown portraits from the children at Belsay Primary School, with clues about themselves:

Ellen- My favourite place to be is at the beach with my dogs eating ice cream.

Thomas- I love playing Minecraft in my room so I’ve drawn my headset and controller.

When asked about the colours used in their portraits, a some children referred to the feelings associated with them, as discussed in the workshop. Some portraits were very abstract. Others were true to real life as some children chose to use mirrors to look at themselves during the task.  Our linking teacher’s favourite part of this activity was showing other staff members the portraits and asking if they could guess who was in each one… in most cases, they could!


We love the varied and colourful portraits that the children produced, what would you draw?

Contact: Emma Beveridge, Joy Youngman or Anne Fountain, Laing Gallery, Newcastle –

Take a look at our websites Laing Art Gallery ,  Laing Gallery: Linking Schools   and Shipley Art Gallery, Shipley Gallery:  Linking Schools

Or follow us on Twitter @LaingArtGallery  and @ShipleyArtGallery

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