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Arts & Culture

Art world legend continues armchair travel series

Naples: exploring its art and culture

Andrew Graham-Dixon, one of the leading art critics and presenters of arts television in the English-speaking world, will continue his Armchair Travel series via Zoom on Monday October 25, at 6pm.

Graham-Dixon is an art historian and broadcaster of high acclaim and has presented numerous landmark series on art for the BBC and other independents including Italy Unpacked (2013-15) and Secrets of the Mona Lisa (2015). He has a long history of public service in the field of the visual arts and is currently a member of the board of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

Graham-Dixon is a longstanding friend and supporter of Newcastle’s Lit & Phil and is hosting the series to help raise funds for the historic library after a turbulent 18 months.

Established in 1793 The Literary & Philosophical Society (or Lit & Phil for short) on Westgate Road, just yards from Central Station, is the largest independent library outside London with a collection of nearly 200,000 books. It is one of the city’s best kept secrets. The Lit & Phil was the birthplace of the city’s universities and a hub of enlightenment for 19th century industrial pioneers.

For over 200 years ideas have been exchanged here that changed the world. Joseph Swan made it the first public building in the world to be lit by electric light in 1879 and in 1815 Robert Stephenson’s father, George, demonstrated his life-saving miners’ safety lamp to the Society. Before the pandemic it had evolved to become one of Newcastle’s busiest cultural venues, but like so many in the sector, has suffered financially over the past 18 months.

Andrew Graham-Dixon said: “In collaboration with the Lit & Phil, I am thrilled to be presenting a series of talks about some of the great art in some of my favourite cities in Europe. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!”

Kay Easson, librarian, said: “Andrew’s art knowledge is unsurpassed, and he is a hugely charismatic and entertaining speaker.  He has long been a friend of the Society and his events always sell out immediately. By doing this series virtually, we are able to reach a much larger audience, and distance will be no object.

Tickets can be purchased via the Lit & Phil website –

The Lit & Phil is now open again to everyone, not just members.

A genuine ‘hidden gem’ of the city, it is open 6 days a week and anyone is welcome to walk in, browse the historic, as well as contemporary, tomes and enjoy a coffee, or just lose themselves for a few hours amid the exquisite and intimate Georgian architecture.

There are lots of ways to support the Lit & Phil and help ensure this beautiful and important Library continues to inspire minds, stimulate imaginations and confer a wealth of knowledge to young and old alike for years to come – whether by becoming a Member, sponsoring a book or simply making a donation –