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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Guiseppe Penone at YSP

Another artist with an exhibition currently at YSP is the Italian, Guiseppe Penone: 'A Tree in the Wood'. He seeks to explore humanity's intimate relationship with the natural world and many of his works feature trees. The centrepiece of the exhibition in the Underground Gallery was 'Matrice', a huge fir tree sliced in two and carved along one of its growth rings. Impressive (and hard to photograph! See part of it in the photo at the very bottom of this blog post). I preferred the work shown on the right, which was also a tree split and carved along one of its growth rings, as though a tree was discovered within itself.                                                                                                                                In the grounds, there was a series of huge bronze casts of trees  including the cast of a lightning-struck tree, its brutally exposed interior lined with gold leaf.                                                                                                                                                    The work at the top of the page is 'Propagazione', a delicate ink drawing on paper, emanating from a single fingerprint and then directly painted across the whole wall. The whorls spiral out, recalling the growth rings of a tree and speaking of our individual identity within the universe. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Chiharu Shiota at YSP

I seem to be having quite a few 'cultural' visits lately. These photos are from a day out at YSP (Yorkshire Sculpture Park) near Wakefield. The huge park has many sculptures (both permanent acquisitions and touring works) displayed outside and also in several indoor gallery spaces.

This work by the Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota filled the historic 18th century estate chapel, and I loved it. Called 'Beyond Time', it was created specifically for this venue. The installation consists of miles of intricately woven and knotted white string, emanating from a ghostly black wire piano (or organ), and scattered with sheet music and copies of pages from the YSP archives. The structure rises and twists like a series of glorious cathedral arches, or perhaps ethereal trees, resonating with the spirit of the chapel, invoking the worship that once took place here and the people whose bodies lie in the graveyard outside. It is like looking at a silent sound. Extraordinary. (Read more HERE.)

The exhibition also included some drawings and a bronze sculpture, called 'Belonging' that I also liked very much. It depicts a woman's hand curved into a man's, sheltering a child's hand between. The artist says: “Because much of my art is temporary and only remains as a memory in people’s mind, I wanted to create something that was more everlasting. The new sculpture Belonging is also informed by my understanding of the boundaries created between us by race, nationality, religion or language, but my deep belief that we are all connected.”

Monday, 29 October 2018


My camera club held a light-hearted competition over the summer called 'Drainpipes'. It's amazing how many you can spot when you start looking, and how different they all are. Here's my selection. The two below look like alien creatures to me!

The last one I have shared already, as I spotted it when on holiday and visiting Forde Abbey, and it's by far the most ornate I've ever seen.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Chellow Dene

Some attractive autumn colour on the path around Chellow Dene. It's a local beauty spot between Shipley and Bradford, popular with dog walkers. It has a good path through woodland and around two Victorian reservoirs that once supplied water to Bradford. I don't think they are used now, which probably explains why these lakes are fairly full with water whereas the reservoirs higher up on the moors have very low levels.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Salt Beer Factory

It's interesting how buildings morph over time... This used to be a tramshed. The first trams appeared in Saltaire around 1882, initially horse-drawn and then by 1893 steam-powered trams were used. By 1904, trams were powered by overhead electric cables; Bradford Council took over the routes and built this new tramshed. Trams were superseded by trolley buses (running on overhead lines but not tracks) and this depot housed the vehicles until 1972, when trolley buses were withdrawn (Bradford being the last area in the country to use them).

For as long as I can remember, the front part of the old tramshed has been used as a bar/restaurant, now called The Hop. The back area used to be a children's adventure centre and soft play area, but (I think) has been empty for a while. Now it has been transformed into a new craft brewery, the Salt Beer Factory. (Not to be confused with Saltaire Brewery, which in fact operates out of premises in Shipley.)

They moved the huge steel vats in a couple of months ago and brewing began in early September. Now the site is overrun with workmen, getting it ready for the grand opening on November 2nd. I managed to sneak a couple of photos through an open side door. It looks as though the tap room will open out onto a terrace at the back, and according to their Facebook page (HERE), there are all sorts of live events planned.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Egypt and the Bay of Biscay

I'm always curious about place names and there are some interesting ones locally. One way to get to Halifax from here is via Moscow, Jerusalem, Egypt and World's End. These are all tiny hamlets in the Thornton area of Bradford. These places would have been familiar to the Rev'd Patrick Brontë, when he was doing his parish rounds from Thornton - and I've discovered a fascinating account of Jerusalem Farm being a place where maggots for fishing bait were once grown... and the gases produced were inhaled by TB patients as a 'cure'! (See HERE).

The hamlets sit on the watershed between Airedale and Calderdale, amidst rather bleak and scrappy terrain shaped by the huge stone quarries that flourished here in the early 19th century. The stone fuelled the huge building boom of the Industrial Revolution: all the new mills and the workers' housing that was built in the 1800s.

The row of cottages that is 'Egypt' was probably built for quarry workers. It was originally sited between the two quarries of Bell Dean and Egypt, the former now filled in and the latter now a large, disused hole. Waste thrown up from the quarries prompted the construction of two huge walls to hold back the spoil heaps and these were known as 'the Walls of Jericho'. I can remember them from my early days as a student in Bradford, when the narrow road passed between them and they were a well-known landmark. (There's a photo HERE, if you're interested.) They were deemed unsafe and demolished in the 1980s, and Egypt Road (below) was widened and made safer.

Closer to home, on the top of a hill overlooking Shipley, lies the row of houses known as the Bay of Biscay - and no, I don't know why, except that there was a farm of this name that formed part of the estate of the Earl of Rosse, a local landowner. The houses are awkwardly placed at the front, adjacent to but lower than the busy Haworth Road and with hardly any space to park a car. You must need to be on good terms with the neighbours, as the arrangement must entail some swapping about.

Perhaps the wonderful view from the rear makes up for it! It's a sweeping vista from this high vantage point, ranging round from Sandy Lane in the west, past Cottingley and right over to Bingley in the distance, with the moors behind and then round to Hope Hill, above Saltaire, to the east.

Thursday, 25 October 2018


My usual mode of photography is simply to go for a walk or to visit somewhere with my camera and see what I can find to photograph. It's not really a very 'professional' approach. The pros plan ahead and know in advance what they are going to aim for, even if it doesn't quite work out on the day. That wouldn't suit me, and I'm generally happy to explore and make new discoveries with my 'hit and miss' style. Sometimes though, I find it stimulating to try a slightly different tactic, and lately I've been using some compositional prompts as a basis on some of my walks. So, for instance, I went out looking for circles one day. It didn't stop me taking pictures of other things too, but I did find a few circles, details I might have overlooked without the stimulus of the prompt.

There was a circular planter on the roof of a canal boat and a porthole window with a colourful painted motif:

A lifebelt:

and a mooring post looking, from above, like child's drawing of the sun.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018


The ever-expanding flocks of geese on the local river and canal are getting to be a menace. The grass and the riverside path in Roberts Park are covered in droppings and it is all rather smelly. The Canada geese seem to prefer the river and fields upstream of Hirst Weir. There was a flotilla of more than sixty birds as I walked that way the other day. Here are just five of them, against a rather pretty backdrop of autumn tinted saplings.

A little further on, foliage made a frame for the grey heron, standing motionless and patient waiting for his dinner.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon down by the canal in Saltaire: walkers, dogs, swans and ducks, and the dedicated volunteers from the Canal and River Trust sharing information and trying to get people signed up to support the charity.

The Trust has existed since 2012, when the former government body, British Waterways, transferred all its assets, liabilities and responsibilities for the waterways network in England and Wales to a charitable trust. It was a controversial move and I'm not sure whether overall it was a good thing or not. It does seem to me to have enhanced the educative aspects of the canal network, which must be a good thing, though largely staffed by volunteers.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Light and shade

I spent a happy few minutes taking photos in the stairwell at The Hepworth. Crafted in various shades of grey slate and lit by skylights, it has some wonderful angles and an intriguing play of light and shade.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Hepworth at The Hepworth

The sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903 -1975) was born and educated in Wakefield, although she famously belonged to the St. Ives artistic colony in Cornwall, along with her husband Ben Nicholson. (I was impressed to learn that she continued to work despite having triplets in 1934, as well as a son by a previous marriage!) The Hepworth gallery was built in 2011 to house the City of Wakefield's art collection and provide a legacy for the sculptor. It holds a large collection of her work: sculptures, paintings and sketches; tools and archives, along with many other works by significant British artists of the 20th century, including that other famous Yorkshire-born sculptor Henry Moore.

I particularly liked the bronze cast of Dame Barbara's left hand - her 'thinking hand', as she called it. My eye was also caught by this grouping of larger sculptures (below), in different materials; solid and yet fluid and tactile.

Some of her work marries bronze or stone with intricate stringing or wires. I enjoyed the play of light and shade in them.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Hopping to The Hepworth

I can be in Wakefield by train in less than an hour and then it's just a short hop from Kirkgate station to The Hepworth art gallery. I wanted to catch an exhibition of work by the artist and photographer Lee Miller (1907-1977), an American fashion model and later photographer and photojournalist, who became involved with the Surrealist movement. She worked at one time with Man Ray (and was his lover, I think) and eventually settled in the UK during the turbulent years of WWII. 'Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain' showed some of her work alongside the work of other artists prominent in the Surrealist movement, and her photos of them. It was interesting rather than 'likeable'. Some of her most famous photos are rather shocking: a severed human breast on a plate, and Miller herself in Hitler's bathtub on the day his suicide was announced. But I did like the abstracted nudes, particularly one of a woman's back, reminiscent of a cello. (Sadly, photography not allowed in the exhibition.)

The gallery itself is very photogenic, inside and out, in a Brutalist sort of way. It's like a sculpture in itself.

Designed by David Chipperfield in 2011, it sits alongside the River Calder. From the huge windows, it has breathtaking views that you come upon almost unexpectedly as you wander through the galleries.

Next door is this striking old Victorian mill building. There are plans for a new public garden to be designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, to occupy the space between.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Art Deco 'Hallmark House'

Some of you may remember, last year, I mentioned that 'Hallmark House', the old Sharpes/Hallmark Cards factory, sited on the hill above Shipley, was up for sale. (See HERE) The good news is that the Grade II listed building and its site has now been sold to a property developer. They are proposing to turn it into apartments, subject of course to getting planning permission. Ahead of the submission and I suppose in order to gauge public opinion, they were holding a public exhibition, so my friend and I went along (as much in order to see the inside of the building as to see the plans!) Last time I went, I couldn't get close because of the security, so I got better photos this time.

Built as the headquarters for the printing firm W N Sharpe Ltd, it was opened in 1937, and has some interesting 'art deco' features, both on the exterior and in the main entrance inside. It was later taken over by Hallmark Cards, who have since amalgamated their business on another site in Bradford.

It's hard to tell exactly what of the inside is original, since it was refurbished in 2001, but there is some lovely panelling and detailing, and two art deco fireplaces in the entrance hall. Some of the clocks were missing, presumably put into safe storage to prevent theft while the building is empty.

The rest of the building had been kitted out conventionally as (now empty) office space. I didn't like to take close-up photos of the actual plans, but the initial thinking is to convert the main building, keeping its frontage intact and also build new units in the car park at the back, giving a total of about 380 small residences: studios, one and two bedroom apartments. Hopefully they will be able to agree the development, as otherwise it will all simply deteriorate, which would be a shame.