Why materials matter at historic Farsley mill

An exhibition which has been two years in the planning and showcases the work of 15 artists has opened in a historic Leeds mill.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 11:30 am
Material Matters curator Alice Chandler pictured with the work of Leeds based artist Connor Shields at Sunny Bank Mills Gallery.
Material Matters curator Alice Chandler pictured with the work of Leeds based artist Connor Shields at Sunny Bank Mills Gallery.

Bitumen, stone, wax, paper, neon and exercise elastics are just some of the materials that artists have carved and manipulated to create the works on display at Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Farsley.

The exhibition, Material Matters, has been planned for two years but was interrupted by the pandemic. It runs until Yorkshire Day - August 1.

Material Matters showcases the work of fifteen artists; all but three of which are living and working in Yorkshire, and one of whom is from Kuala Lumpur giving the exhibition an international presence.

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13 photos of Farsley through the years

Yorkshire-based artists include Ian Jackson (Leeds), Bijan Amini-Alavijeh (Wakefield), Rhian Cooke (who studied in the county and stayed), Katrina Cowling (Bradford), Clare Holdstock (Hull), Dominic Hopkinson, Becca MacDonald, Julia McKinlay, Hannah Robson, Connor Shields, James Thompson, and Jane Walkley (who has a studio at Sunny Bank


The tremendous variety of work on display includes film, sculpture, print, jewellery, and weave. Short films of four of the artists working in their studios enable visitors to see how the

Yorkshire based artist Katrina Cowling installing her neon sculpture in the Material Matters exhibition.

artists craft and develop their work. These beautiful and informative films were all made by a local filmmaker too – Leeds based Zoe East of Opal Video.

Jane Kay, arts director at Sunny Bank Mills, said: “The exhibition examines the diversity of materials informing what sculpture is and can be, as well as the contemporary

artists who make it; the majority of whom are based in Yorkshire, and many in Leeds.

“Inspiration for their works comes from objects and sources as diverse as reclaimed architectural limestone and stone masons’ tools (Ian Jackson), riding around on a bicycle,

traffic lights and skipping ropes (Rhian) and ancient archaeological objects (Mary).

“This is a great opportunity to explore contemporary sculpture; what might a piece of work mean to you, how does it make you feel, and what does it tell us about the artist or the

material world in which we live?

The exhibition has been curated by Alice Chandler, a member of the Sunny Bank Mills

gallery team.

Alice, who is also an artist from Leeds, joined the team directly after university six years ago and has been working with many of her contemporaries in curating this


Alice said: “Curating the Material Matters exhibition has been a dream project. The exhibition generates a wealth of sculptural and material possibilities and associations. Although the artists have diverse practices, it has been fascinating to explore the relationships and links between all their pieces.

“The works are incredibly tactile and meticulously informed by craft, experimentation and material thinking. It has been especially brilliant to work with filmmaker Zoe East, who has

captured the studio processes of Rhian, Connor, Ian, and Hannah beautifully. I am excited by the prospect of upcoming artist workshops in stone-carving, casting, and ceramics, meaning

gallery visitors can have a go at learning some of the artist’s techniques.”

The exhibition is open every day except Monday. Tuesday to Saturday from 10am until 4pm, Sunday 12pm-4pm. Entry is free and there is free parking on the site.


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