Hebden Bridge Open Studios 2013

Nothing delights me more than to peak behind the curtain of the creative process and visit artists and makers in their native environments – their studios. And if you want to find a plethora of studios within walking distance of each other there’s no better place than Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, a bohemian hotspot which has attracted artists and writers since the 1970s and 80s.

The town can boast that 68 artists flung their doors open to the public (that’s 1.5% of the population!) for the annual Hebden Bridge Open Studios weekend. I popped by to see the work of the artist’s that call Brooklyn and Northlight studios home.

It was wonderful to see so many different types of artists work side-by and share a great deal of camaraderie with others in their building, as well as a sense of community amongst the artists that create in Hebden Bridge. There were many print makers amongst that community but their individual concerns and aesthetics made the medium feel fresh and new in each studio. Leatherworkers, mosiac makers, rug makers, painters, illustrators, stained glass artists, sculptors, makers, jewellery makers, ceramicists, and textile artists, all featured. Many captured my eye as well as my imagination but amongst my most favourite were Angie Rogers, Lynda Thomas, Annie Lawson, and Sally Darlington.

Visual Artist Angie Rogers‘ practice focusses on woodcuts, bookworks and paper engineering. Her love for the countryside and the Pennine hills where she lives and works shines through her work and brings the magic moments and fleeting wildlife encounters in the outdoors to life. Much of her works feels personal yet extremely relatable because of the sense of story telling.

Lynda Thomas is an artist and printmaker whose concern is memory and travel – framed childhood games, painted maps and collaged map books, and photo boxes, made up her collection on display. She also created wonderful woodcuts inspired by the area around Hebden Bridge.

Cocoons, lines, and circles make up Sally Darlington’s textile work. Her neutral shades and contrasting highlights bring attention to the organic forms within her work. The textures and materials are strangely comforting, which Sally frames and hangs without glass. Her work is available in a variety of sizes but she is currently working on a small range.

Annie Lawson’s latch-hooked wall hangings feature bright geometric shapes through to domestic scenes. Hung like canvases to the wall there is something really interesting in using wool as the medium to communicate through. Annie also creates rag rugs, making beautiful colour bursts with this once frugal homemakers method, plus she’s a dab hand at drawing witty cartoons.

Unfortunately the day unfolded with many distractions in the town itself – including the live music in the square and the Handmade Arts Market in Holme Street Arts Centre – as well as being the warmest sun and clearest skies of the year so far, making time by the riverside with an ice cream in hand an essential part of the day. There were so many studios to visit it would have been unlikely I could have made them all in one day – that’s probably way the event runs for three days – but it is sad not to have visited more – there was such high levels of craftmanship and creativity on display. There’s always next year….

Hebden Bridge Open Studios is an annual event which ties to the local Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. It is held over three days each year around the end of June / beginning of July. Some studios run exhibitions and open studios at other times in the year too.


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