Sunny Bank Mills

Despite feeling rather tired and drained I allowed myself to be persuaded out on a bit of a jolly yesterday; to be fair, I am quite easy.

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A few years ago two cousins – relations of the original owners – began a huge project to regenerate an old textile mill in Farsley – Sunny Bank Mills. Like many such renovation projects, the weaving sheds and warehouses have given way to various modern businesses, who are now tenants. But what struck me was the love with which it has been done. I know that’s a wishy-washy term, but it’s there in every newly exposed brick. There’s a huge respect for the heritage of the place and it’s celebrated in every corner. The development is a business venture but even so, time and money has been invested in creating an archive centre, an amazing resource including documents, loom tickets and fabric, all being carefully catalogued. Even one of the owners was helping out – indicative of the respect the building and its past is being shown by its present custodians.

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We initially went there for the gallery. One of my friends, Kate Bowles, was delivering stock and wanted to introduce me, and Paula from Wychbury, to the lovely lady who runs it. It’s hard to imagine it’s only been open for 5 months. Beautiful goodies were attractively displayed, creating a stunning and quirky atmosphere in one half of the room, whilst the other half has been given over to gallery space. Most prominent was the work of Erin Ward, someone who I had not come across before but whose coastal paintings are of gloriously subtle colour creating a sense of serenity and at the same time, a very real power. Keep your fingers crossed and The Hanging Tree might be part of an exhibition there next year.

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There are lots of plans in the pipeline at Sunny Bank Mills, and I can’t help but wonder the potential considering all they have managed to achieve in such a short period of time and with minimal staff. I couldn’t find a Facebook page for them, but do check out their website and keep an eye on their events. There is still space to rent and parts are available to hire. It is a very special place.

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We finished the day with a great lunch at South Square Gallery where I was given a fab mug with a weaving draft printed on. My friends had brought it for me st Sunny Bank when I wasn’t looking. I’ve been drinking out of it all day and it keeps putting a smile on my face when I think how lucky I am to have folk like that in  my life.

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And now a bit of loom porn from Sunny Bank – a gorgeous George Wood in the Archive Room and a Hattersley in one of the passageways. Contrary to popular rumour I did not *actually* lick the Hattersley, but I might have done if no one had been watching.

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