I am delighted to post a short note which says that Dean Clough Galleries in Halifax (West Yorkshire) will be the location for the first public exhibition of work from the Feeding Body and Soul project. I talked with Vic Allen, Arts Director at the galleries some while ago, and I now have a date for the opening ‘private view’.
It will be 12 noon to 2:00 pm on Saturday 11th February 2017.
Whilst recognising that the location – particularly if you are on the other side of the world – is not exactly going to be readily accessible to everyone, all are warmly welcomed to come along.
Dean Clough is a fabulous location. Based in a complex of old mills which have been pain painstakingly regenerated, right in the centre of the town of Halifax, it is a thriving, privately-owned business centre where over 4,000 people come to earn their living. The buildings are packed with businesses who have chosen to locate on this 20-acre site which was once the world’s largest carpet factory. What could have been an appalling eyesore as it decayed – or worse still demolished and replaced by concrete jungle – is a vibrant central hub to the local area
Much of the credit in driving this transformation forward goes to Sir Earnest Hall, a local entrepreneur but who knew about community. He made his first fortune in textiles, then in property through the Mountleigh Group. In 1983 he sold up for £40m and sunk £20m into the former carpet-factory site which went on under his genius to make a £765,000 profit and show more than £37.1m assets by 2007-08. Today it is said to be worth £30m plus…….but really that is only the financial value. The social and cultural value to Halifax is just about immeasurable, and accounts for why it has over 60,000 visitors a year.
One of the reasons for such visits is a complex of nine art galleries set up within the buildings which host public exhibitions of vast array of art, along with display of an incredibly impressive permanent collection owned by Dean Clough. This gallery programme has been in place since the mid 1980’s and makes art freely available to the public, despite having no direct funding from the local council, the Arts Council of England, or from the EEC. Dean Clough also provides rent-free accommodation for some 20 artists and for major theatre companies such as Northern Broadsides and IOU theatre, as well as for arts charities such as Northern Orchestral Enterprises Ltd (NOEL), or Yorkshire Youth & Music.
Against the historical and cultural background of Dean Clough, it almost sounds trite to say that I am honoured to be able to exhibit there. The show will be called Unlikely Heroes, from which it is not hard to envisage a focus on people as I try to tell the story of a renaissance in small scale, local, food production. It will attempt to convey the extent of the network of growers nationally, but will have a particular focus on those in the North in keeping with a show in a prestige venue in Halifax.
Unlikely Heroes will be on in the Photographer’s gallery which take 40 odd 2 foot square images. As is usual at Dean Clough, all the galleries will open with new shows at the same time. If you are able to come along you will be welcomed at all of them, not just at the Photography’s gallery. Details of the shows will go up on the Dean Clough website in the near future – see http://www.deanclough.com/arts/whats_on.asp. Details of how to get there etc are also on the website. Car parking is right next to the venue.
Unlikely Heroes exhibition will also mark the launch of my book of the same title….or it will if it comes out of the printers OK!!! Nervous times for a first time self publisher – its currently en route from print room to binding rooms at Henry Ling at the Dorset Press in Dorchester. It will be a 160-page tome documenting my travels around alternative farmers and growers in England and Wales in 2015.
Needless to say, the prospect of Dean Clough on the horizon has been quite pivotal in maintaining my spirits during the slow recovery from the surgery. I do hope many will be able to join me on the 11th Feb. – would be great to see you there. If not, the show will remain open for 3 months so plenty of time to visit!!!!!