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Good Input, Output and Salt!

For 20% good output, we need 80% good input!

The past week I have taken most of the week off work (there was ONE precious life drawing session I never want to miss!), no course creation, no commission work, no admin. I set some social media posts auto post in my scheduler app, then deleted ...yes...DELETED facebook and Instagram from my phone for 4 days! I made time for 5 days of ARTIST DATES!

I was first introduced to this idea when reading Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" about 20 years ago. She suggests taking about 2 hours each week to go our on an Artist Date with nobody but yourself. Your inner artist needs to be taken out and pampered. We all need to refill our well of creativity. These dates may be a long walk in nature, a trip to the seaside, watching the sun rise or set, a trip to a place you've never been to before. Maybe go to the weirdest museum you can find, or, indeed, submerge yourself into all you can in an art gallery or exhibition.

With our art galleries closed, in the UK, for months and months of the past year and a half, getting out to these newly reopening galleries was a priority for me...I was making up for lost time! So I went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield, the Van Gogh Experience and the Grayson Perry "pre-therapy years" exhibition in York and the Saltaire Arts Trail & Salts Mill. Each of these has given me so much deep, rich input that I am now really excited to see where it will seep out into my work, my output.

There's so much to tell, I'm going to take a blog post a week, over the next 5 weeks to tell you about each one. So I'll start with Saltaire as their Arts Trail is currently on until 6th June.

Saltaire is a victorian model village, built as a self-contained community, by Sir Titus Salt, in 1851, to house all the workers and managers or his woollen mill, nestled between the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the railway line, for the ins and outs of his raw materials and finished fabrics. The village was proudly built in an italianate style, with each house having a yard, a water supply, access to bath-houses, park, town hall, schools and a hospital. These are very beautiful victorian terraces, with views of hills at the end of the streets! Salts Mill is now home to a a series of art exhibition spaces, the Hockney gallery, Salts Diner, several other cafes, a fabulous bookshop and a glamourous homeware store. It is a fabulous places to spend several hours.

I like to spend a good 10 minutes or so sitting on an old pew bench communing with "The Wave". A giant, beautiful artwork by David Hockney (born in Bradford, just a couple of miles away) made via a fax machine! If you have believed the damning reports around Hockeney's latest digital art collection on exhibition at the Royal Academy, a trip to Salts Mill will remind you why we love Hockney and all that he has brought to British Art over his lifetime!

The ground floor is home to the 1853 Gallery of Hockey's work and collections, plus a very tempting selection of art related books and art supplies.

Upstairs is the bookshop...I had another small accident/purchase here too...and then the diner. After a week of picnics I treated myself to lunch and a glass of rose wine on this suddenly hot May day!

Then OUT into the sunshine to explore the Saltaire Arts Trail!

Now usually around the late May bank holiday the Arts Trail is a vast series of open studios where both resident and visiting artists turn a room or two of some of the beautiful Titus houses into mini art galleries. Obviously last year this was replaced with a virtual art fair. This year, to ensure a covid-safe event, we have a Window Arts Trail. So instead of stepping into the houses, smaller displays were set up in house windows. Each location was marked with red bunting and a QR code to take you to the artists websites for browsing and shopping their whole range.

It was a little unusual to be invited to peer into peoples windows, but it is still a fun experience and some artists are found working and chatting in their yards and gardens too.

I especially enjoyed some childrens impromptu exhibitions as part of the Great Art Exhibition project too, just to add to the artistic richness.

In addition to this there are over 30 contemporary designers and makers in the Virtual Makers Fair and a wide variety of artist-led workshops, activities and talks. Check out Saltaire Insprired for details. The evidence of having an artistic hub, a sense of community, is in the depth, breadth and quality of the work available and on show in Saltaire. It is a constant source of inspiration to me.

My last stop...because I knew we'd end up putting the world to rights for a while, was at Paula Dunn's window....I say window...a whole house of window, in fact, as Paula has gone the extra mile and made a fabulous mini gallery in her snazzy new greenhouse! Paula is lucky enough to have a very beautiful front garden to her Saltaire home...perfect for this lovely weather.

Her work, in cold wax and oil paint, features glowing atmospheric landscapes of yorkshire and Turneresque moody skyscapes.

Saltaire Arts Trail is on 10-4pm daily until 6th June, so do go along and soak up the atmosphere, support the artists, buy yourself something unique, hand created in Satlaire and feed your mind, your inner artist... and your belly with a trip to one of the many fabulous cafes!


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