A lovely day wandering around Saltaire, West Yorkshire for their annual Arts Trail. I’ve included links rather than images for copyright reasons.
Salts Mill is an amazing space. There is a permanent David Hockney exhibition plus the exhibition ‘The Arrival of Spring’ which consists of prints of 49 images produced by Hockney on his iPad. I’m still getting my head round this concept. Certainly in the gallery the colours are vibrant and the overall impression of spring is strong; it raises interesting questions about the role of technology in art which Hockney has been exploring for some time.
On the top floor is an incredible room called the Spinning Room. A huge area with stone flag floor, I’ve only seen the room before in the Cloth & Memory book from the exhibition in 2013, one of the texts which originally sparked my interest in studying textiles at degree level, so I was excited to be there. Of primary interest was the participatory art event Lasting Impressions by Hannah Lamb and Claire Wellesley-Smith. In the programme it is described as:
‘Taking place as a series of timetabled performances, that involves the artists embossing hundreds of small porcelain tiles with textures from visitors clothing; an edge of a dress, the corner of a cuff, a coat zip…
Each tile made will be archived with a label written by the owner of the clothing, sharing a personal narrative of cloth and clothing. In exchange for leaving a mark from their clothing, each participant will be offered the chance to have a stitch added to their clothes by the artists. The work will grow with each impression left, and each mark made: a multi-vocal collection of stories.’
Daughter and I both made imprints from our clothes, filled in a label and received a stitch in return. I will be excited to see where this project ends up; already on Instagram there seem to be lots of participants. The act of taking an impression of our everyday clothing was quite telling, as was completing a label about where the garment was made and why we liked it. The concept really appeals to me; there are very strong links in the area to the textiles industry and so the use of the mill added an incredible resonance to the work.
There was also a large Makers’ Fair with some excellent exhibitors. Touring this and window shopping reinforced my interest in print; I’m going on my first print making workshop on Saturday which I’m very excited about. The fair also made me think how tricky it must be for exhibitors sometimes balancing their own preferences with what is most saleable; lucky those where the two coincide.
We chose a boat ride on the canal over visiting the various artists’ studios. Perhaps most striking of the day for me was being able to enjoy the industrial architecture of the area. Nowadays I live in rural North Yorkshire but I grew up in the midlands surrounded by canals, coal mines, factories and mills and my family had a narrow boat on the canal for a while so this was a trip down memory lane. But it was also more; it helped reignite my long standing interest in architecture. When I was a teenager, I remember lying on the beach reading a book on architectural styles when others might have been reading Jackie Collins or Judy Blume; perhaps it links to my dad being a builder. When I went to university in Manchester and Sheffield I would draw and photograph the largely Victorian architecture – roof tops, chimneys, terraced houses, bridges. I found it an interesting antidote to the sometimes overwhelming natural beauty around me at home.