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Thursday, 31 May 2018

Suffragette March

Sir Titus Salt's statue may have looked on in amazement at the scene in Roberts Park on Bank Holiday Monday. Then again, he may have remembered the original event the crowds were commemorating, which took place 110 years ago in 1908, when 100,000 people gathered on Shipley Glen to demand votes for women and workers in Britain. It wasn't until after WWI in 1918 that the Representation of the People Act for the first time allowed men over the age of 21 and some women over the age of 30 to vote.

The anniversary celebration began with speeches and music by the bandstand in the park, and was followed by a march up to Shipley Glen. It was very good humoured, with some dressed in Edwardian costume and many in the suffragette colours of green, white and purple.

The speaker above is Bobsie Robinson, the Cultural Policy and Strategy Manager of Bradford Council. The lady below styled herself as Mrs Working Woman and made an impassioned speech. The emphasis was that women fought and made sacrifices to obtain the vote all those years ago and we must now use our vote and continue to work together for positive change. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Hebden Bridge central

The centre of Hebden Bridge is attractively pedestrianised, allowing the pubs and cafés to have outdoor seating. There is often some entertainment going on. As I passed through, the buskers must have been having a break, though their gear was still arranged around the sculpture. The artwork depicts a fustian cutter's blade, referencing the textile trade around which the town grew up. (Fustian is the generic term for corduroy and moleskin.)

The town sits at the confluence of Hebden Water and the River Calder, which is why it is susceptible to flooding. The earliest settlement was up on the hill at Heptonstall, which became a centre for handloom weaving.  The ancient packhorse bridge over Hebden Water, that was used to bring cloth down into the valley, still stands (below). As the Industrial Revolution took hold, Hebden Bridge expanded rapidly and many mills were built, using the readily available water and steam power to drive their machinery. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Heart Gallery

I frequently drive through Hebden Bridge but I rarely stop to wander or, if I do, I often have a grandchild in tow. So I haven't taken all that many photos, which is a pity as it's a town full of interest. I had agreed to look after my granddaughters and put them to bed one evening, in order that their parents could have a well-earned night out. On the way, I stopped in town to have a quick look in one of the local art galleries, Heart Gallery, which is housed in a former Baptist Chapel, on the main street through the town.

There was a new exhibition, 'Craggs and Fells', by Kate Lycett, one of my favourite local artists. (See HERE). She has produced some stunning new work, including a wonderful depiction of Halifax's newly restored Piece Hall. I'd love to own one of her paintings, which she often embellishes with subtle patches of gold leaf and gold thread. The originals are beyond my reach but I was wondering if I could justify a limited edition print... Hmm. I really enjoyed seeing the work (do click the link) and browsing the lovely arts and crafts in the rest of the gallery.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Hebden Bridge

My daughter and her family are happily settled in Hebden Bridge, which is about a 45 minute drive from Saltaire, over the Pennine moors. It is in West Yorkshire, though not far from the Lancashire boundary, situated in the deep valley of the River Calder. It's a quirky place for all sorts of reasons. The steep valley sides led to unusual housing development, like the 'over and under dwellings': houses with four or five storeys, which are actually two homes one on top of another, the upper one facing uphill and the lower one with its back to the hillside. My photo shows some of these in the background. It's a town with a New Age vibe that has attracted artists and creative types. It's also very family and community oriented and won a 'Great British High Street' award in 2016 for its many independent shops, many with rather wonderful names, like the shoe shop Ruby Shoesday. (You perhaps have to be as old as me, or a Stones fan, to appreciate that one?) The devastating floods that the valley has periodically suffered (most recently in 2015) have in many ways only served to strengthen community ties.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Green ripples

Another abstract composite: green foliage reflected in the canal, the water rippling in a slight breeze. I love shooting natural abstracts like this - and these colours are really true to life.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Spring's picture frame

Blossom and new growth in the allotments belonging to Shipley College's horticultural department provide an attractive frame for Salts Mill.

A pink cherry tree prettifies the almshouses on Victoria Road.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Surfing Salt style

Saltaire's four stone lions are reputed to leave their pedestals outside the Victoria Hall and roam the village at night...  Sir Titus Salt's statue also appears to me to have a secret. Here he is, attempting to surf a wave of cherry blossom.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Green nibblers

A haze of tranquil green wraps around the church in Saltaire, where its land slopes down to the canal. The grass is kept short by all the little nibblers...

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The glory of the garden

Here is a selection of the photos I took of individual plants at the Himalayan Garden. The magnolias were beautiful. They seem to have largely avoided frost damage this year, perhaps due to the late arrival of spring. 

Rhododendrons are the star of the show, and there were more colours and varieties than I've ever seen anywhere before.

Some of the juxtapositions were inspired, like this bright yellow tree against the showy red rhododendron.

Himalayan blue poppies, which I've also seen at Harlow Carr, are apparently quite difficult to grow but seem to be getting established here as well. 

I'm not sure what any of the plants below are, but I though it an attractive grouping. 

And of course, cherry blossom and our native British bluebells are welcome signs of spring.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Kath Khuni Shelter

The Kath Khuni Shelter is a recent addition to the Himalayan Garden - and I loved it. It replicates the indigenous architecture of the Himachal Pradesh region of Northern India and Tibet. These buildings are unique to that area, using local materials held together by wooden tenon and mortices, with rubble-filled walls that will flex to withstand earthquakes. They have layered courses of wood and stone, a slate roof and are decorated with carvings. The garden's shelter has layers of cedar, stone and slate and its 100 year old ornamental balcony has been sourced from India. The detail was beautiful and the shelter has already started to weather very attractively. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

More Himalayan Garden sculpture

The sculptures around the Himalayan Garden are eye-catching. Here are some I particularly liked.
Above is Samara (Rebecca Newnham) - made of glass over a fibreglass and steel body, and based on the helical flight of a sycamore seed.

Above is Ribbon Red (left) and Red Scarf (right), both by Carol Peace.

Below is The Swift (Hamish Mackie).

And finally, below: Pinnacle (Giles Raynor) - a copper spiral fountain around which water spins. 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Sculptures in the gardens

The Himalayan Garden (see also yesterday) holds over 60 contemporary sculptures, which add another layer to the delightful experience of wandering the paths and exploring the planting. There are several red oriental-style bridges and a Balinese pagoda. The red of the bridges is echoed by a red fibreglass sculpture called 'Wave' (Rebecca Newnham), which has earned the lake the nickname of the Nessie Lake, after the Loch Ness monster! There are also some rather attractive twisted metal fountains.

The Stone Circle (Barry Bain and Peter Roberts) is reminiscent of the ancient 'henges' that can be found across Britain. This one is made from decorative stones and old gateposts, some with the metal gate hinges still attached.

John Simpson's Fir Cone is a ten foot tall construction of Welsh slate, standing proud on the hillside.

Other sculptures are almost hidden around the gardens, nestled into the plants, like the bronze Tribal Head (Patricia Volk).

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Himalayan Garden

On the recommendation of some friends, I made a visit to the rather well-kept secret of the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, up in Nidderdale, near Ripon. It's a 20 acre private woodland garden belonging to Peter and Caroline Roberts. Over the past 20 years they have created, more or less from scratch, a specialist collection of Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas, along with other plants, trees and sculptures. It is only open to the public for a few weeks in the spring and autumn and is quite hidden away, tucked in a maze of narrow lanes, but it really is a gem of a place. I took loads of photos, though it's one of those places where a photo barely does justice to the scene.

Their rather grand house sits on a hill overlooking the wooded valley, which has several lakes and streams, affording lovely reflections and meandering paths. (The coloured discs, like lily pads, in the lake are a sculpture by Rebecca Newnham - though to be quite honest I thought they rather spoiled the lake! There were many other pieces scattered throughout the garden that I much preferred.)

The garden is still being developed and a large area has recently been planted as an arboretum, with native British trees and some more unusual species. That area runs down the hillside into a rather pretty bluebell wood by a lake.

You can take a virtual tour of the gardens via the website: https://www.himalayangarden.com/garden-sculpture-park/virtual-garden-tour/

Friday, 18 May 2018

A room with a view

Actually, not technically a room... It's the view through the window from the staircase leading up to the roof space in Salts Mill. Perhaps I like it because I only get to see it once or twice a year, when the mill's top floor is open to the public. I always want to take a photo! Saltaire was looking very fresh and green on a sunny spring day, with the church tower poking up behind the trees and the old Dining Hall (now part of Shipley College) visible across the road from the Mill. The Dining Hall used to provide meals for the mill workers, all part of Sir Titus Salt's care and concern for their welfare.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

As far as the eye can see...

I'd hoped to take a walk in Hirst Woods whilst the bluebells were at their peak, but I simply haven't found time to go with my camera for an intentional photo session. I did, however, walk back through the woods with a friend one day, returning from a longer walk. I only had my phone (which is on its last legs and needs replacing) and it was a bit too sunny (!) but I still couldn't resist taking a photo or three. Bluebells really look better in diffused light rather than strong sunshine. The photo, however, does convey the lovely blue haze in the woods, with flowers stretching as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Shadows of the past

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
Leeds Photographic Society once again held their annual exhibition on the top floor of Salts Mill. It's always interesting to see work from other camera clubs and they have a high standard, though I thought there was little that was really innovative. One of the issues I have with camera clubs is that we all tend to churn out similar work, driven to some extent by what we think will score highly with competition judges: gritty mono portraits, wildlife shots, sports action, a few landscapes. Leeds PS do have one lady who produces very attractive still life images; they're a bit different. 

I was really more thrilled (as always) with the feeling of being in the raw, un-refurbished and vast space of a former spinning shed in the mill.  When I'm up there I can almost hear the clatter of ghostly machines. The sun was streaming in through the skylights, making such interesting plays of light and shade. That always appeals to me. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Postcard art

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
Once again, an invitation went out to local people to submit art on a postcard, to be exhibited as part of the Arts Trail and then sold to raise funds for The Cellar Trust, a local charity that supports people with mental health issues. I didn't think there was quite such a wide variety or high standard this year, though I still enjoyed looking at them. Many of the images I most liked turned out to be by the same lady artist. But it is always interesting to see what people can do with a postcard, and there were some inventive entries. I think my favourite was the one above, but below are some more that caught my eye.

 And finally, one done by a child, I guess, but enjoyable for its simplicity and sheer character.