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Salts Mill Part 3. David Hockney and contemporary kitchen ceramics.

May 12, 2012

This is the last part of the inspiring trip I took to Salts Mill, in Saltaire a couple of weeks ago.

On one floor there was a long room displaying a series of works by Henry Marvell Carr, who was born in Leeds and later studied at the Royal College of Art, London. He was primarily a portrait painter and was successful both before and after the war. I presume he was commissioned to undertake a series of works depicting life in the factory.  Interesting to see the skilled workers in their jobs and captured in this permanent way. Almost like ghosts from another life of the mill.

A more contemporary artist Nick Tankard, who has been a book seller in Salts Mill, grew up with a bedroom view of the Aire Valley. Inspired by the place that he worked and lived, he created a range of prints telling the story of Titus Salt’s journey from the Victorian Hell of Bradford to Elysian Saltaire– through a series of pen and ink images, using his distinctive cross hatching method. Copies of his dramatic cards and posters are available from the bookshop.

A more well known yet still local artist David Hockney has been associated with Salts Mill since its more recent refurbishment. A Bradford boy originally, David has always held his Yorkshire roots close to his heart.  It wasn’t surprising that when Jonathan Silver approached David about displaying his work in the Mill, David agreed. The two had first met in the 60’s and had kept in touch, sporadically since then. The Galleries at Salts Mill are very proud of the large collection of David’s wonderful work on show and deeply grateful to him for his continued support and interest.

How lovely to stumble upon the same views that Hockey saw before turning them into his self styled works of art.

There’s even a nod to Hockney’s stage sets with the lovely Cafe in to the Opera on the same floor as his changing gallery exhibitions.

There was a projector of David’s images he’s created using a paint program called ‘Brushes’ on the iPad. I love the way that this 74 year old artist quickly embraces new technology and is keen to explore his art through so many different forms and mediums. How inspirational.

After his first major restrospective exhibition ‘David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture’ which was housed at the Royal Academy of Arts from January 21 to April 9, he is still working on the Yorkshire landscapes that he loves and knows so well. There’s a great piece on David by Martin Gayford on The Telegraph site and that you can read here.

Martin says ” A long time ago, David Hockney met the granddaughter of the great Russian-Jewish artist, Marc Chagall. She told Hockney that all her grandfather – then in high old age – wanted to do was sit in his studio and paint. Hockney entirely understands why that was. “Well, of course, what else would you want to do when you’ve done this all of your life? When you are older, you realise that everything else is just nothing compared to painting and drawing.”  How amazing to have found what it is you love to do the most in life and be able to do it for all your life too ! and to do it so well.


Finally there’s another wonderfully inspiring shop tucked behind the restaurant at Salts Mill, called simply ‘Home’.  Jammed full of shiny, retro, contemporary and beautiful home interior items to tempt and entice even the most reluctant shopper. With a host of famous names like Alessi, Marimekko, Isak etc. There’s a superb design collection of ceramics throughout the ages along the back wall too, sadly I wasn’t allowed to take images but it is well worth seeing for yourself anyway.

No surprises that I loved this series by Mini Moderns featuring the Festival of Britain. What quirky imagery. I also liked the ceramics from Lotta Odelius and their modern yet retro appeal, form and colours.

I found a few more companies and great items in the same vain online.

What an amazing place Salts Mill is, well worth a day’s trip to investigate more.

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