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Joanne Coates | The Vasseur Baltic Artists' Award Middle of Somewhere

Until 17 November 2024 | 10am-6pm | Free entry

Working class artistJoanne Coates tells stories of rurality, hidden histories and inequalities relating to low income. Coates is the recipient of the 2024 iteration of The Vasseur Baltic Artists' Award

Woman with curly red hair and a grey wool jumper stood in a doorway to a barn.

Joanne Coates is a working-class visual artist working in the medium of photography who lives and works across the North East of England. Her work explores rurality, hidden histories and inequalities relating to low income through photography, installations, and audio. Coates uses photography to question the concepts of power, identity, wealth, and poverty, by exploring the social histories of land, gender, and class to narrate stories that have long been forgotten – or simply never told. 

Participation and working with communities are an important aspect of Coates’ work, and in 2022 she was announced the winner of the Jerwood/Photoworks award. Following this , Coates collaborated with 12 women identifying as working-class to produce the timely exhibition, The Lie of the Land. Coates produced a series of portraits that represented the individual lived experience of the women, within the rural and agricultural setting. 

Over the years Coates has worked with various groups and organisations to investigate themes of class, inequalities, rurality, and community cohesion. Whilst in residence at The Maltings and in collaboration with Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) and institute for Creative Arts Practice, she developed Daughters of the Soil which explored the role of women in agriculture in Northumberland and the Scottish Boarders. 

This exhibition and research will build on themes around class, gender, inequality and the rural explored previously in Daughters of the Soil and The Lie of the Land. Again, Coates will collaborate with participants to explore parallels between people and places, the exhibition will delve into questions around climate change, cost of living crisis, disparities of wealth and the impact on low-income communities. 

The Vasseur Baltic Artists’ Award, is titled in memory of the late Isabel Vasseur, an admired figure who inspired a generation of curators and artists with her fearless approach to putting art in the public realm. Through the 2024 Award, Baltic Legacy Patron, Vasseur continues to support the growth of contemporary art. 

Vasseur's career spanned more than thirty years, encompassing photography and experimental film, important curatorial initiatives at festivals in Glasgow, Gateshead and Edinburgh, and through her London agency, Art Office, she commissioned public art projects throughout the UK. Vasseur served on the Board of Trustees for Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (2004-08) and lectured on the influential Curating Contemporary Art MA at the Royal College of Art (1993–2003).

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What to expect | Joanne Coates

Find out what to expect with this Visual Story - a guide with words and pictures.

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Exhibition Accessibility

  • Our friendly and knowledgeable Baltic Crew team can interpret the artworks and help bring meaning and understanding to the exhibition.
  • Folding seats – ask Baltic Crew or pick up a stool from the racks
  • Free exhibition tours - chat to Baltic Crew to find out when the next tour takes place
  • For our full building accessibility and facilities information visit here
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