A HEAP OF HOCKNEY – Salt’s Mill, Yorkshire

Saltaire gets the colourful Hockney treatment.

Saltaire gets the colourful Hockney treatment.

Build a smart new museum and someone will complain that it lacks soul. Convert an old industrial site to a cultural facility and it immediately becomes a cool place.

Salt’s Mill was the thriving hub of Bradford’s booming textile industry in the 19th century. Now it’s an art centre, boasting the world’s largest permanent collection of work by Bradford-born and Yorkshire-resident David Hockney.

Thanks to what is turning out to be an inspired home exchange, Mevrouw T and I are spending the Easter break in Saltaire, West Yorkshire.

Salt's Mill, by the River Aire.

Salt’s Mill, by the River Aire.

Saltaire village is World Heritage-listed. UNESCO splashes honours around pretty liberally these days, so we weren’t expecting anything too special. We were very pleasantly surprised.

Industrialist and philanthropist (isn’t it nice when these two go together?) Sir Titus Salt established the mill in 1853 and around it built a church, hospital and homes for his workers. He wasn’t the only one to do this, but Saltaire is apparently one of the best preserved of these ideal villages.

The former Saltaire Hospital, now residences.

The former Saltaire Hospital, now residences.

Workers' cottage, Saltaire.

Workers’ cottages, Saltaire.

Narrow boats on the River Aire.

Narrow boats on the River Aire.

Inevitably, there was eventually ‘trouble at mill’ as the British textile trade foundered. Salt’s Mill closed in the 1980s, until it was rescued by another visionary local businessman, Jonathan Silver.

He bought the building in 1986, and opened it as a complex of museums, shops and cafes. Excellent decision!

A gift shop with the wow factor.

“Gallery 1853″ – and a gift shop with the wow factor.

Making the ordinary extraordinary is Hockney’s thing too. By heightening the colour he turns nondescript locations in the Yorkshire landscape into magical places.

A Hockney Yorkshire landscape.

A Hockney Yorkshire landscape.

The history of the textile trade told in art.

The history of the textile trade told in art.

Hockney's designs on the sun shades.

Hockney’s designs on the blinds.

Entry to Salt’s Mill is free. Exiting via the gift shop is not likely to be quite so cheap!

12 Comments

Filed under Art, England

12 responses to “A HEAP OF HOCKNEY – Salt’s Mill, Yorkshire

  1. Great stuff. Brings back fond memories of a superb place. I lived closeby in Hebden bridge for over twenty years and still have a house there, Sf

  2. It’s a great place Richard, that’s for sure. Glad that you are enjoying your brief stay in the UK.

  3. Beautiful place and great artist. We got to see the recent travelling Hockney exhibition in (of all places) the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The great thing was……….no queues (unlike London)…..

  4. What a delightful and inspiring place to visit. Hockney’s landscapes are so vibrant and colourful, hard not to love them.

  5. Love Hockney and you’ve done a fine job with your own pics for this post. Thanks for taking me to Saltaire. I would never have known….

  6. Amazing architecture, too, Richard!

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