Category Archives: Arts & Culture Headlines

Threads of survival at Halifax Central Library

A powerful and moving collection of textiles and handmade quilts documenting the COVID-19 pandemic, is now on display at Halifax Central Library.

The Threads of Survival exhibition features a selection of quilts and textile pieces produced during the COVID lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.

The project began in August 2020, where people were invited to sew their stories and experiences of pandemic life and to reflect on the importance of the NHS in our lives. In the true tradition of community quilting the exhibition features work from both professional artists and first-time quilters.

The project is led by national campaign organisation, 999 Call for the NHS, and features 28 quilts made by 140 people from West and South Yorkshire, as well as Birmingham, County Durham, East Anglia, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Somerset and Surrey.

The exhibition comes to Halifax as part of a nationwide tour that has seen the quilts visiting locations across the country, including Gawthorpe Hall in Burnley, the Royal Museum in Truro and Dewsbury Minster. After Halifax it will be moving to Rotherham Minster, in April.

More than two years after the start of the Threads of Survival project, 999 Call for the NHS is still facilitating the creation of powerful textile pieces and quilts which tell people’s stories of life during COVID and their feelings about the NHS. The latest quilts respond to the question, “Where are we at now?”’

Threads of Survival is available to view during library opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 5.30pm and Saturday from 10am to 4pm. It will be on display until Friday 14 April 2023.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Councillor Jenny Lynn, said: “The COVID pandemic and associated lockdowns affected everyone in different ways, and this innovative project documents the experiences of people around the country during this moment in history.”

“We’re pleased to be able to bring the exhibition to the Central Library in Halifax. Each panel of the colourful quilts tells a different story and it’s fascinating to view the artwork and technical skills which are contained in the quilts.”

Steven Carne, Chair of 999 Call for the NHS who led the development of the project said:

“We’ve had a fantastic response from our first exhibitions and the collection is growing every month. We think people will be blown away with the diverse themes and images. Our month at the British Textile Biennial in 2021 resulted in tears, laughter and even arguments in front of the quilts. It’s not for the faint-hearted.”

Live Theatre To The Yorkshire Wolds

An East brewery is bringing live theatre to the Yorkshire Wolds with an alternative take on Shakespeare.

Touring company 440 Theatre will visit Wold Newton based Wold Top Brewery on 28th July to deliver a performance of Shakespeare with a difference.

As part of a double bill, the troupe of four actors will be performing Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in one evening. Act One sees the 440 team wrestle with a side-splitting Macbeth, followed by an outrageous take on Rot in Act Two.

“We can’t wait to see two of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies transformed into comedies. 440 have been delighting audiences up and down the country with their fast-paced, in-your-face productions that offer an alternative take on some of the world’s most famous plays,” said Wold Top director Kate Balchin.

440 director Dom Gee-Burch said: “Stripping the narrative to its core, we keep the essence of Shakespeare’s words alive to help his magnificent stories shine at the heart of our shows. Anarchy is equally balanced with a safe and family-friendly environment.”

“Our Shakespeare Double Bills are quintessentially British in their style of comedy. It’s pantomime meets theatre in the park, and we can’t wait to bring it to the Yorkshire Wolds for our first performance at a brewery!”

The performance will take place outdoors, with a contingency of bringing it indoors in case of inclement weather.

The live theatre night is one of a series of events throughout the year, including a charity quiz, a beer festival and an open day to celebrate the brewery’s 20th anniversary.

Wold Top was founded in 2003 and is located on the Mellor family farm at Hunmanby Grange near Filey. The team uses home-grown barley and water from the farm’s borehole to produce a range of award-winning cask, keg and bottled beers available throughout Yorkshire and nationwide.

440 Theatre was formed to provide live-action Shakespeare that educates and entertains in as little as 40 minutes. In 2021 they received Arts Council England support to help develop their production of Macbeth that toured nationally and inspired the Shakespeare Double Bills.

New Maritime Themes Added To The Awakening Programme

This weekend The Awakening returns to Hull, lighting up our heritage-rich streets ready to say goodbye to winter and welcome in spring.

On 17 and 18 March, Hull city centre will come alive with work and performances from local, national and international artists.

For those travelling into the city centre, you can expect areas around Queens Gardens, Whitefriargate, Trinity Square and Zebedee’s Yard to be illuminated with wondrous installations and performance.

You can also explore the indoors through Ferens Art Gallery which will be open 6pm – 10pm both evenings for their permanent exhibitions and for an Awakening exclusive installation, and Trinity Market will also be open both nights for special editions of Trinity Live from 6pm – 9pm.

There have been some exciting new additions to the programme since the last update, with a further focus on Hull’s maritime connections both past and present. The Awakening is presented by Freedom Festival Arts Trust with one of the key partnerships being Hull Maritime who help shape how the producers plan to spotlight Hull’s maritime connections.

Local favourite, Andy Train will be taking to the streets as The Docker, which featured as part of the World Champion Living Statue trio ‘Three in a Boat’ as part of the Awakening in 2022. The characters represented some of the seafaring industries that shaped the city over the centuries and were a favourite with families and passers-by.

Another iconic Hull landmark will be joining in the activities. As Hull’s historical floating lightship, the Spurn Lightship has returned to its rightful place on Hull Marina and its new lighting will shine light on Hull’s current connection to our rivers and sea during The Awakening.

Organisers Freedom Festival Arts Trust encourage visitors to make use of their website for any travel and access information before the event.

On-site Guides are available at community centres and local businesses in Hull and East Yorkshire, and are also available at Central Library, Hull Station’s Info Pod and the Back To Ours Bransholme Chat at Northpoint Shopping Centre.

Weavers & Artists Bring Industrial Loom Back To Life

In March 2023, Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley will present a unique exhibition of collaborative work led by weaver and artist, Hannah Robson.

Hannah has created a series of dynamic woven textiles using an industrial jacquard loom that was, until 2021, in disrepair at Bradford College.

Thanks to ‘The Jacquard Project’, supported by Arts Council England, Bradford College, and Leeds Inspired, Hannah coaxed the machine back to life with the help of local weavers and loom tuners, who generously offered advice, replaced parts, and serviced the machine.

The striking fabrics have been developed in partnership with four other local artists: Alice Chandler (jeweller), Anna Ray (mixed-media artist), James Thompson (sculptor), and Jodie Posen (weaver)

Hannah, who is also a Lecturer in Woven Textiles at Bradford School of Art, explained: “I wanted to work with other artists to open up the process of weaving, which can be very technical and hard to access outside of an industrial setting. Weaving is a magical process that offers infinite possibilities in terms of design, colour, and surface. It has been stimulating for me to see how each collaboration has unfolded and the results are distinct and surprising.”

The Jacquard Project celebrates the weaving heritage of West Yorkshire through creative exchange and collaboration. These new textiles have a contemporary and conceptual edge, presented as large panels on wooden frames. The cloths carry evidence of the making process – the experimentation and exploration, colour and scale variations, yarn testing, and the glitches of the loom.

The exhibition aims to demystify the weaving process and invites visitors to follow the threads as one artist’s work blends into another’s. The show will take place on the first floor of the iconic 1912 Mill at Sunny Bank Mills, in Farsley near Leeds – itself a former worsted mill and weaver of fine cloth. The year 2023 marks ten years of arts and culture at the Mills, and this exhibition forms part of that year-long celebration.

Private Collection Of Paintings Set To Be Auctioned

A private collection of paintings from a Yorkshire Estate are to be auctioned in the British, European and Sporting Art Sale at Tennants Auctioneers on 18th March. The collection comes from Denton Hall, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, a popular wedding and shoot venue.

Amongst the twenty-four paintings from Denton on offer in the sale is “Cowslips” by George Dunlop Leslie (1835-1921), offered with an estimate of £10,000-15,000 (all estimates exclude buyer’s premium). The picture, depicting a trio of young girls collecting cowslips, was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1877 and was in the collection of The Rt. Hon. William George Armstrong of Cragside, Rothbury between 1900 and 1910. George Dunlop Leslie was a member of the St John’s Wood Clique, an influential circle of artists who acquired large fortunes and high social status. His early work was markedly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, but as his career progressed, he began to paint in a more academic manner, portraying gentle and pleasing scenes of everyday life. The critic John Ruskin praised his depictions of the “sweet quality of English girlhood.”

A painting by fellow St John’s Wood Clique artist William F Yeames (1835-1918) is also on offer from the collection. Yeames, who set up his studio in Park Place, London, was not a stereotypical bohemian artist; rather he lived a civilised and comfortable existence in a smart house in London and holidayed on the Devon coast. He had a fascination with British history, particularly the Civil War, reflected in the present painting which depicts “Dr Harvey and the children of Charles I at the Battle of Edgehill” (estimate: £7,000-10,000).

According to the catalogue note that accompanied the painting when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1871, “The Young Princes accompanied their father the King, whilst he waged war with Parliament. At the outset of the Battle of Edgehill, their tutor Harvey, the famous discoverer of the circulation of the blood, took them to a place of safety, as he though, and all absorbed in his meditations, sat down and pulled out his books, and plunged into his studies. It was only when the bullets whistled about their heads that he became aware of the danger to which his young charges were exposed.”

Further notable paintings in the collection include ‘St Paul’s London’, by John O’Connor (1830-1889) (estimate: £6,000-9,000), two floral still lifes by Cecil Kennedy (1905-1997), ‘Romneya’ and “Summer,” offered with an estimate of £6,000-9,000 each, and “Hauling Timber, Loweswater, Cumberland” by Herbert Royle (1870-1958) (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

Amongst the lots from other vendors in the sale are two fine marine works by Yorkshire artist John Steven Dews (b. 1949). Dews was born in Beverley and is one of the most successful living maritime artists. His work has been exhibited across the world, from an early sold-out show in San Francisco to exhibitions in London and New York. Born into a seafaring family, he set up his studio on the Humber Estuary where he studied the ever-shifting waters.

As an avid sailor, he imbues his works with meticulous detail and realism gained from his close affinity with the sea and sailing. On offer are two depictions of legendary racing yachts “Shamrock Racing, Velsheda & Britannia Thames Estuary, c.1930” and “White Heather II battling it out with Britannia off Fishburn, Cowes”, on offer with an estimate of £8,000-12,000 each, alongside a smaller historical scene “Shipping off Sunk Island, 1830”, on offer with an estimate of £800-1,200.

The Weston Gallery Announces Solo Art Exhibition

Lindsey Mendick’s solo exhibition will transform The Weston Gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), taking the form of a multi-media installation that investigates dreams, Gothic stories, television and cultural experiences from the 1990s. Bringing the artist’s recurring anxiety dream to life, Where The Bodies Are Buried takes the form of a decaying house with dark secrets beneath the floorboards.

Works will include ceramics and stained glass emerging from the floor as hands, feet and limbs, with a film playing across several screens creating a chorus for simultaneous viewing. Anxiety dreams have long inspired artists and writers, ranging from Eve’s prophetic dream about eating the forbidden fruit in Paradise Lost, to Surrealist paintings and sculpture depicting hauntings and dream-states. The phrase ‘where the bodies are buried’ means to possess information or secrets about a person or organisation. In Mendick’s installation, the secrets are both literal and metaphorical, the buried bodies signifying her fear of being ‘found out’ and misdeeds of the past being unearthed.

The installation references the popular 1990s UK soap opera Brookside, in which abusive husband and father Terry Jordache was stabbed to death by his wife Mandy in 1993. Mandy buried his body under the patio, assisted by their daughter Beth who was played by Anna Friel.

In a storyline watched and discussed by millions, the body was eventually discovered in 1995 and Mandy and Beth were charged and imprisoned. Mendick reflects on this plotline and the simultaneous, communal television viewing and shared cultural experience of 1990s soaps. Her work mirrors the tensions, crescendo and drama of years-long narratives, in contrast to contemporary on-demand viewing culture.

Mendick also draws on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 short story The Tell-Tale Heart in which a murderer is plagued by the sound of a heartbeat. He assumes it is that of his victim buried below the floorboards, but the sound is likely the narrator’s own heart betraying him. The story is a powerful reflection on paranoia and guilt, driven by the pounding heartbeat as a rhythmic compulsion to confess.

Mendick creates worlds layered with personal anecdotes, timeless myths and popular culture references. She works predominantly with clay – a material that has historically been associated with decoration and the domestic sphere. She acknowledges and subverts these associations, creating intricate works that explore the roles and experiences of women in society. Dark comedy permeates Mendick’s practice, and her confessional approach knowingly combines crushing self-doubt with sensational honesty. Her installations draw on the artist’s own stories and memories, with humorous, grotesque and beautiful results.

While exploring personal anxieties, the installation will draw attention to the layers of history and the lives that have played out on YSP’s grounds over centuries. Seams of clay, Mendick’s primary medium, are present within the earth on the 500-acre site. The clay is intermingled with coal fragments which, via extraction and exhuming elsewhere in Yorkshire, brought wealth and status to the families who shaped this landscape.

The exhibition is supported by Jigsaw Foundation.

Opera Event At Pontefract Castle A Huge Success

Photo Credit: Tom Arber

Over 100 people enjoyed a free, fun, family-filled adventure at Pontefract Castle this weekend, and even more events are planned across the district this year.

Based on the music and story of Janáček’s opera, ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’ was hosted by Opera North and led by a cast of professional opera singers and musicians. Families enjoyed this interactive and relaxed concert where singing and moving around were encouraged.

Cllr Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Sport, said: “This was an absolutely fantastic event for Wakefield residents to experience the magic of opera, storytelling, and music, whatever their age.”

“Going to the theatre can be an expensive outing and being able to offer this to families for free this year is our way of helping to bring opera to our communities and to audiences who may not usually be able to access traditional Opera North performances.”

“But don’t worry if you didn’t get tickets, we have lots of wonderful events coming up this year that everyone can get involved in.”

Rhubarb Festival returns to the district this weekend (17 – 19 February) with a food and drink market, chef demos, street entertainment, music and much more.

Residents can also look forward to the return of WordFest in May, the Castleford Roman Festival in June and Pontefract Liquorice Festival and Proms at the Castle (Pontefract) in July.

For more information about all the events taking place across the district this year, please visit the Experience Wakefield website here

Players Recreate Founders First Meeting From A Century Ago

On Wednesday 11th January members of Grassington Players gathered to commemorate the original society’s inaugural meeting, a hundred years ago to the day.

The minutes of the first meeting were found safe in the archives and current Chairman, John Anderson had the inspirational idea to re-enact that first meeting at the exact date, time and venue.

Taking those precious historical minutes as a starting point, fellow player Mark Bamforth painstakingly researched from the 1921 census the ages and Christian names of the attendees who had taken part in the gathering at Yarkers Tearooms in Threshfield back in 1923. He put together a draft transcript which was read by the attendees with current committee members taking on the respective roles of those founding members.

President Mary Wilkinson read May Walker, Secretary Pam Watley-Homes (Hannah Garside), Treasurer Robert Fort (Ernest Pullen), Mark Bamforth read original chairman George Gardner, John Anderson, the Reverend Leighton, Paula Vickers (Hannah Grimshaw), Stephen Lodge (Abram Crabtree), Neil McCormac (John Lunham), Andrew Armstrong (William Walker), Katie Milner (Joyce Maufe), Paul Coultas (Henry Greenhough, Tom Powell (William Dennis) and Jonny Jowett (Arthur Blades).

Grassington Players is interested to hear of anyone with family connections to those original members and would welcome any relevant memorabilia for display at productions during this centenary year.

The small and quite moving celebration at the same tearoom (now The Hedgerow), was attended by several current and former members of the Grassington Players, including the oldest extant members Nan Jowett and Beryl Bamforth. A toast was raised with glasses of sherry to the founding members, to the next 100 years and to Hutchinson family of The Hedgerow for their hospitality.

The gathering heard how the original founders called themselves the Grassington & District Amateur Dramatic Society and agreed to pay an annual subscription of 5 shillings with the aim of raising funds for renovations at the Grassington Devonshire Institute.

Known colloquially as the Town Hall, The Devonshire Institute continues to receive support from Grassington Players today and is the venue for all the society’s productions. A centenary dinner celebration was held there on 28 January with the main hall and foyer theatrically dressed for the occasion with all the glamour of The Great Gatsby by Paula Vickers and her willing recruits.

Material from the archives was on display including old programmes. More than 200 productions have been staged since the society’s inception, with a recurring theme of a few favourites such as When We Are Married, which was revisited for the third time last year.

Over the years the society has performed in drama festivals and graced television screens with news coverage and the series The Dales documenting its staging of the amateur world premiere of Calendar Girls in 2012.

After the buffet centenary dinner prepared by Grassington House, members heard from Beryl Bamforth who’s tenure in Grassington Players dates back to 1966. Over the years she was involved in more than 40 productions, performing, backstage or directing, and recalls how, when she was Secretary, she sent out the 11-year old Mark Bamforth, now 62, on his bike to deliver membership subscription letters. She expressed her sadness that at 89 years old she is no longer able to take an active role.

The Bamforths are not the only generational family in Grassington Players; Joan Whitaker, her daughter Esme (sadly missed) and grandson Will Binns all played a part in the ongoing story of the society, and President Mary Wilkinson, her daughter Zarina and grandchildren Chris and Harriet Belk have been the backbone of the committee for several years.

Mary called for members to pull together to ensure the Players survive for a further 100 years, appealing for more people to learn the backstage craft that enables productions to be staged.

After the speeches, Robert Shield, a dance teacher from Swing Dance in Leeds gave a quick lesson in how to dance the Charleston and many Players took to the floor in fabulous 1920s outfits sourced from the Players own costume store, Ilkley Playhouse, Northern Costume Hire and Colne Hippodrome.

Back in 1923, the society’s first productions were a series of one act plays ‘The Monkeys Paw’, ‘No Servants’, ‘Mother ‘o Pearl’ and ‘If This Should Meet The Eye’. A century on, the Players propose to present three productions including the stage adaptation of ‘Brassed Off’ in collaboration with a local brass band in the autumn and a Ghost Walk around Grassington.

The Awakening Is Back In 2023

After an incredibly successful launch year in 2022, The Awakening is returning to Hull City Centre on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 March 2023, with an additional gig on Sunday 19 March, illuminating the streets of the city centre once again.

Celebrating the change of seasons from winter to spring and our great city’s maritime identity, heritage, folklore and mythology, you are invited to explore the history-rich streets of the city centre from Queens Gardens, down Whitefriargate, across Trinity Square and up to Zebedee’s Yard. Experience magical and entertaining installation experiences as the sun sets into the evening.

With support from the Shared Prosperity Fund, HM Government Levelling Up Fund, Hull Maritime and the Heritage Action Zone, Freedom Festival Arts Trust are delighted to be working in partnership with Hull City Council to bring this event back to Hull city centre again in 2023.

Councillor Mike Ross, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “Last year’s event was a huge success. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves, supporting the local economy and getting involved with the creative programme around the city centre and Old Town.”

“We’re delighted to be able to bring The Awakening back for 2023 and collaborate with Freedom Festival Arts Trust again, bringing international artists to the city and creating something special for us all to celebrate the changing seasons and the city’s rich maritime heritage.”

This free to attend event across two evenings brings opportunity to explore world-class installations and performances, with Hull’s historic areas lit up with giant figures and forms like you’ve never seen before. Venturing indoors, we also have musical offerings from local favourites including a special edition of Trinity Live in partnership with Trinity Market and Sesh Events.

Returning to Ferens Art Gallery, there will be another chance to catch the RE:SCORE films and a special live performance by Broken Orchestra in Ferens Art Gallery. Just like last year, whilst you’re exploring you can also expect city centre businesses to have their doors open later than usual offering food, drinks and entertainment.

Mikey Martins, Artistic Director of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, says, “We are so excited to produce The Awakening again in 2023, we are working hard with our partners to establish this as an annual event on the city’s cultural calendar.”

“We’ve designed a very family friendly event with something for everyone to enjoy, so we look forward to welcoming and seeing families of Hull enjoying the city centre and celebrating the changing of the seasons in our great maritime city.”

Lowry Paintings To Be Sold At Modern & Contemporary Art Sale

Two drawings by the masterful Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976) are to be sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on 4th March in Leyburn, North Yorkshire. The works, which span Lowry’s artistic career, represent two of his overriding interests: the streets of Greater Manchester and the Sea.

“The Stepped Street” (estimate: £50,000-80,000 plus buyer’s premium) encapsulates Lowry’s skill as a draughtsman at an early stage of his career. Executed in 1929 during a golden period of creativity for the artist, the drawing depicts Crowther Street in Stockport.

The second drawing on offer is “The Sea”, a simple pencil sketch of the unbroken sea and sky of the North East coast, dating to 1965 and executed during one of his frequent holidays at the Seaburn Hotel, Sunderland (estimate: £12,000-18,000 plus buyer’s premium). Here he always stayed in the same room, which looked straight out at the empty expanse of the North Sea, sketching, and watching the water and sky melding at the horizon. One of his finest large-scale oil seascapes inspired by the same view, “The North Sea” painted in 1966, was sold at Tennants in October 2022 for £840,000 plus buyer’s premium.

“Shoalhaven River and Black Bird” by Arthur Boyd (1920-1999), one of Australia’s most important artists, is also expected to garner international interest.

Boyd comes from a distinguished artistic dynasty, which contributed greatly to the landscape of Australian art. Having set up home on the banks of the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales, he was fascinated by the river and it became one of his most emotive and enduring subjects. In the present work he depicts the river with as a pure, unspoiled landscape devoid of human interference. The painting will be offered with an estimate of £12,000-18,000.

Notable works of Northern Art in the sale include ‘Children Playing Before an Industrial Town’ by Brian Shields (1951-1997), known a Braaq (estimate: £5,000-8,000), a collection of cityscapes and abstracts by Stuart Walton (b.1933) such as ‘Hunslet, Leeds’ (estimate: £800-1,200), and ‘Albert Square, Manchester’ by Arthur Delaney (1927-1987) (estimate: £1,500-2,500).

From further afield are a selection of works by distinguished Canadian artists, led by “Danse Irrégulière” by Paul-Émile Borduas (estimate: £6,000-8,000). Borduas was one of the most important figures in modern Canadian art, and leader of the Automatists group. He developed a spontaneous style of non-figurative painting, a technique first used by Surrealist painters and poets to express the unconscious in art.

Also on offer in the sale is a good group of sculptures, including a life size bronze Bulldog with impressive naturalism by Yorkshire sculptor Sally Arnup (estimate: £4,000-6,000) along with examples of the work of Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn and David Wynne. An interesting selection of prints include “Aesops Fables Peacock and Magpie” by Edward Bawden (1903-1989) (estimate: £800-1,200), “Six Stones” by Henry Moore (1898-1986) (estimate: £700-1,000), along with examples by Bob Dylan, Billy Connolly, L.S. Lowry, Sir Terry Frost, and Mr Brainwash.