Art for All Including the Small


As the long school holidays are now well underway and the rain is still falling at regular intervals, I thought I'd proffer a suggestion for a day out with the kids indoors.  When I was a schoolgirl I'd occasionally spend the lunch break (we called it the "dinner time" then, but I digress) wandering around Whitworth Art Gallery which was on the same road as my school.  I would happily have spent a lot more time there but I never felt very welcome or comfortable and seemed to be viewed with suspicion.  What a shame and what a far cry from how galleries view visits by children now.

This week, at the instigation of a switched-on client, I visited Salts Mill (Saltaire) in Shipley, Yorkshire.  It's a very large and rather attractive mill (not at all dark, satanic or forbidding) and it houses art galleries, focusing on David Hockney, shops and cafes.

My visit rather reminded me of the ad campaign run by the V&A a few years ago:  Great Cafe with Museum Attached.  I went on a Tuesday and the main gallery was closed so I spent most of the time in the diner and the shops.  It was not a great hardship.  

We started off with lunch in The Diner.  This is not a place to visit if you're feeling a bit delicate or hungover:  It is noisy and full of life and colour.  You'll see in the photo that primary colours, beloved of children, are used in the chairs, light fittings and in the artwork on the walls.  Even the lovely fresh flowers on every table were in varying colours.  The background noise is that echo and clatter associated with a big canteen but the food and table service are not at all canteen-like.  Everything we ate (burger, fries, salad nicoise - not saying who had what) was really tasty and nicely presented and the service was friendly and efficient.

The book shop next to The Diner is one that couldn't fail to appeal to you if you enjoy my art and interior design.  They had lots of my favourite interiors books and a few I'd never seen that looked interesting - it was a struggle to restrict myself to one reasonably justifiable purchase.  The books in the other sections seemed to have been chosen not just for their content, which was interesting and varied, but for the beauty of their covers.  The poetry section was particularly gorgeous and I would have loved to have bought whole collections of titles, so stunning would they have looked on a bookshelf.  I was worryingly drawn to a book of poems about murder but I managed to restrain myself.

Perhaps of most use for your interiors is the section of the shop that sells good quality prints of some of Hockney's work.  The client I mentioned allowed her art-loving 11 year old to choose a poster for his room and he chose a piece that was as perfect for the room as anything I would have selected. 

There is another huge area on the floor below this book shop which has art exhibited on the walls and books and art supplies for sale.  There seemed to be quite a few interesting shops but there is a limit to how many shops I can drag my man around before he starts looking distressed.

The very lively, colourful and excellent diner:


Great bookshop:



Love this palette table:

My best effort at an external image of the mill:

Titus Salt, the man who built the mill:

 I do hope you can get there, with or without children, but best go Wednesday to Sunday so you don't miss the main event.


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