Since re-opening as a centre for contemporary art and learning, The Tetley has been praised highly. With the third and final leg of its opening exhibition, A New Review Part III, on until the end of August, we took a look around during a day of celebration for not just the new space, but the Tetley family itself.
The weather was stunning, Leeds has never looked better, and The Tetley – with its new lease of life since closing as a brewery – was a wide-open space full of brilliant and fascinating things; all in celebration of Joshua Tetley’s 236th birthday.
First on the list? Cooperage. If that word means as little to you as it did to us, then simply take one master craftsman, a variety of ancient looking tools, and the extraordinary act of creating a beer barrel from scratch. Alastair Simms, the Master Cooper at White Rose Cooperage, chiselled, hammered, bowed, and generally impressed his way around the front of The Tetley with a display of what we can assume is the only really proper way to create the perfect beer container. And it was at the very least a way of keeping dads intrigued whilst the little ‘uns tried their hand at any manner of garden fete games on a lush field across the road (and whilst TSOTA performed quite well at the strength test, we could not prove ourselves at the coconut shy)
Inside the renovated building, still all wood panelled walls and original office doors, was the full extent of the brewery’s past. Nearly every bottle of beer produced by Tetley’s is represented in an enormous glass showcase, and on the walls of every floor are posters and adverts, signs and price lists, all reclaimed from former Tetley pubs across the country. Regardless of what events are on here, there is a fascinating insight into what used to be a huge part of the city’s economy and the counties lifestyle.
A Watery Line, created by artistic collaborators Nous Vous, was in full swing up on the second floor courtesy of a stitching workshop led by Norwich designers Peter and Sally Nencini. And the finished articles we saw, created by hands of six years old and up, were beautiful expressions of a love for needles and thread. And further up the building you could try your hand at Letterpress printing, wood carving, listening to soundscapes, watching a potter in action, and most importantly eating cakes. The cake competition, for the record, must have been won by an extraordinary creation in the shape of – what else? – a beer barrel.
And if things got just a tad too interactive for you then the work of photographer Stephen Iles is enough to soothe even the most restless soul. During the conversion from brewery to gallery, Stephen made frequent visits to the site in order to document the process. And this new exhibition of his, ‘Between Space,’ draws on that idea of juxtaposing places with the objects that sit in them. As well as pictures of half-built buildings, he includes ones such as a whole group of heavy duty plastic boxes stacked highly in a white, wood-panelled room. Bringing your mind firmly to rest on the idea of temporary storage, re-development, and what happens in when gallery spaces aren’t expected to be viewed by the public. Between Space is an inviting and strangely calming exhibition, and worth heading to The Tetley for alone.
To finish such a wonderful day with Ice Cream and, naturally, a pint, seemed ideal. And sitting outside the front of this grand old building full of people and life once again, it was impossible not to be struck by how good a job has been done with The Tetley. The funding has been spent, and if people of the like of Nous Vous and Stephen Iles get spaces in which to continue showing, inviting and exciting the people of Leeds, then that’s money well spent indeed.
The Tetley’s full programme can be viewed at www.thetetley.org
Nous Vous: A Watery line is on until August 31st, and includes a number of workshops of which more are available here www.thetetley.org/nous-vous-watery-line
Stephen Iles: Between Space is on until August 17th, and includes two events that can be booked here www.thetetley.org/stephen-iles-space/