[Image courtesy of Dean Clough Galleries]
Emma Chaplin continues to explore what’s on offer in her home town of Halifax….
Make sure to read Part 1 HERE
Hebden Bridge: Located just outside of Halifax town and tucked within the Calder Valley, Hebden Bridge has seen a slight cultural and retail resurrection over the past few years. Esteemed by The Times last year as ‘the coolest place to live in Britain’, the small but thriving town has a lot to offer the culture-seekers of West Yorkshire. Typically renowned for its New-Age, organic, gay-friendly vibes, the town’s laid back feel also envelopes a serious investment in the arts, music, food and drink, offering even the non-hippies out there a good day out.
Arts Festival– Occurring in June, the yearly Hebden Bridge Arts Festival has been and gone this year, but for anyone interested in the arts, it should definitely be pencilled in for the next time round. Featuring art workshops, poetry, live music, crafts, street art and theatre it really is a diverse and all-encompassing event! Also in June is the annual ‘Handmade Parade’ which sees an epic carnival-esque display of handmade costumes, art and giant puppets through the streets of Hebden Bridge. Workshops to begin constructing these mad displays commence in May 2015 for those who prefer to get stuck in.
Art Galleries– And so you don’t have to wait that long, Hebden Bridge has several arts venues and galleries which are worth a visit. The Calder Valley Gallery has a constant roll of exhibited photography, sculpture, prints and paintings and also design led jewellery and accessories that are all often on sale. Artsmill, a charity, non-profit space also regularly exhibits work that covers a broad range of mediums but also holds workshops, life drawing classes, talks, poetry readings and music events. They display work from local and regional artists to even the likes of Picasso, Paula Rego, Frank Auerbach and Quentin Blake! The Snug Gallery, the ‘Purveyors of Contemporary Objects’; Snug display and sell a selection of high end crafts, print, photography and other design led products, this is perhaps more of a retail space but their stock is admittedly beautiful- not to mention award winning- so much so, resisting a purchase or two may be difficult….
The Calder Valley Gallery, Hebden Bridge
Also worth a mention: Spirals; fair trade, eco friendly, ethical gifts that are surprisingly, not all made out of hemp- there are some genuinely beautiful things on offer here, with the shop recently expanded, covering skincare, kitchenware, jewellery children’s toys, home ware and trinkets; this store fuses a design led aesthetic with a traditionally ‘hebden bridge’ eco-consciousness. Mooch Cafe Bar: A great place to re-fuel after all the art and all the shopping…Cafe by day with a fun, relaxed vibe and great lunch menu and, on the weekends, an intimate bar serving a good selection of drinks and snacks. Mooch serve hearty food set against an eclectic backdrop of local arts and crafts adorning the walls – this place is a personal favourite of mine!
Hebden Bridge Trades Club: Perhaps lesser known than the likes of Leeds’ various music venues, the social club is in fact a notorious gem for music, with past performances from big names such as Patti Smith, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, British Sea Power, Joan as Policewoman and hosts regular jazz gigs, offering a diverse range of music.
Best of the Rest:
A restaurant that deserves a mention is Gimbals in Sowerby Bridge, Halifax. Visually stunning, the restaurant is both chic and eccentric – the owner Janet, a magpie for stunning pieces that adorn the restaurant (the latest window feature being a giant plastic shell, a past relic of the Blackpool Illuminations). All that glitters certainly seems gold here as the food also delivers; artisanal, adventurous and delicious and designed around seasonal produce. For those partial to a tipple, the Damson gin ends the night quite nicely. In fact there is an array of cocktails on the drinks menu that cater for all tastes, reflecting the true eclecticism of this lovely eatery.
A big participant in Halifax’s arts and culture scene is Square Chapel, conveniently located across from the rail station. Restored and refurbished in the 90’s the Georgian building once designed as church now houses some of Halifax’s main arts events. They host a plethora of events in music- ranging from folk to opera, comedy gigs, poetry readings, workshops and much more.
Last but not least The Artworks. Based on the traditional idea of ‘Art School’ The Artworks host a wide range of studio based classes and workshops to give access to art lovers from all walks of life. They facilitate many crafts including drawing, painting, ceramics, photography and printing. Artworks encourages a real ‘welcome to all’ mentality while attaining to give the best quality experience to its art-makers. The 1830 Gallery within the space also offers a range of exhibited work, from established names, to displaying the work from members and workshop goers so there is always new work being displayed!
21st century Halifax, left in the industrial lurch has seemingly wilted into a slight identity crisis with no real industry, heavy or otherwise to define itself. It may not be able to match the cultural diversity that its neighbouring cities boast but that doesn’t mean to say that it is cultureless. Culture seekers have faith! Where there are artists, there is art, and as I have discovered Halifax does have its fair, and exciting share!
www.hbaf.co.uk (Hebden Bridge Arts Festival)