"Culture is big business in the area, so here is Explorer's online guide to the best of the artistic delights on offer"

The Biscuit Factory

Located on Stoddart Street, The Biscuit Factory - so named thanks to its previous incarnation as a purveyor of sweet treats - is the UK's largest commercial art gallery. That means that everything you see is for sale, but don't let empty pockets stop you from browsing. With artist studios within the gallery, you can see work come to life as well as fully-formed results. And with a mix of paintings, photography, sculpture and film - from both international and local artists - there's something for everyone. There's a top café, the Factory Kitchen, too, if all that culture leaves you gasping for a frappuccino.

INFO: thebiscuitfactory.com

Unit 44

Take your art with a large dash of zeitgeist? Then head to Unit 44 on Hoults Yard, close to the old city wall. Here you'll find a converted warehouse packed with edgy, modern and punchy artistic offerings - from music and photography to underground and street art. These aren't your average watercolour landscapes, with the likes of D*Face, Eelus and C215 all exhibiting here. It's also well worth checking out the White Walls Project which will see various artists transforming an outside wall of the warehouse into their own signature style throughout the year.

INFO: unit-44.com

BALTIC

The immense old flour mill on the quayside in Gateshead was transformed in 2002 into a giant modern art gallery, boasting floor after floor of expansive space just waiting for suitably evocative exhibitions to come and roost. And roost they did - over the past nine years the gallery has housed exhibitions from the likes of Damien Hirst, Yoko Ono and Anthony Gormley. From October 2011, it will also host the prestigious Turner Prize competition. With Karla Black, Martin Boyce, Hilary Lloyd and George Shaw all battling it out for the £25,000 prize, it's an amazing chance to see their weird and wonderful creations for yourself.

INFO: balticmill.com

Laing Art Gallery

From sculptures by Henry Moore to landscapes by John Martin, the Laing houses an array of impressive art from the 18th century onwards. Alongside a well-rounded permanent collection, the gallery also has a packed programme of fun events and exhibitions throughout the year, including child-friendly projects for your own budding Picassos. 

INFO: twmuseums.org.uk/laing

New Bridge Street

Art and sculpture on the waterfront

You don't have to head for a gallery to see some of Newcastle's finest artistic offerings - many are dotted around the city for everyone to admire. The quayside is home to several of the best pieces - from the Blacksmiths' Needle on the Promenade, which is a tribute to the six human senses (yes, six) with a maritime theme, to the River God or the Swirle Pavillion, both of which are found further along the quayside, and are tributes to the city's shipping history.

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