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Popular Yorkshire art gallery takes to the great outdoors

One of Yorkshire’s most popular art galleries is tackling the problems posed by Covid-19 – by staging a new exhibition outside.

Sunny Bank Mills Gallery, an integral part of the historic Sunny Bank Mills complex in Farsley, near Leeds, is hosting the exhibition in Weavers Yard, the huge new development at the mills.

Jane Kay, the director of the gallery explained: “The Gallery team has had to start rethinking how to reach audiences and promote artists at a time when no-one is able to physically visit the gallery.

“The wide open space at Weavers Yard has given us the opportunity to continue to promote artists and culture in lockdown, whilst at the same time animating our outdoor spaces. Visitors can now walk round Weavers Yard, look at the art and enjoy a little lockdown exercise.”

She added: “We are delighted to both support our local creative community and to provide local residents with a means of engaging in culture whilst our gallery is closed.”

Jane has selected 15 pieces of art, with images provided by the artists printed at a scale and format to enable them to be displayed outside.

“With this exhibition, in these chilly February days and in the grip of this global pandemic, we wanted to create a sense of warmth, hope and brightness as a contrast to what many people are experiencing,” said Jane.

The artists featured are Katie Bennett-Rice, Julia Pomeroy, Jake Mullins and Jenny Beard, with two pieces by textile designer Vanessa Plews.  In what is almost a separate exhibition, they are joined by Jack Gaunt whose photographs focus on domestic flies and bugs.

Jane explained: “Katie Bennett-Rice, Julia Pomeroy Jenny Beard and Jake Mullins have all exhibited with us in the main gallery in Ones to Watch, our annual exhibition supporting artists who are studying in or are from Yorkshire, with Katie and Julia subsequently winning residencies in our studios.

“Our residency space is offered free to support emerging artists and give them space and time to create new work. There is a shortage of affordable space for artists in Leeds and we are delighted to be able to provide subsidised /free space where we can for artists who have previously exhibited with us.”

This outside exhibition will run indefinitely.

Jane commented: “Weavers Yard will become a semi- permanent exhibition space for the Mill and local artists in years to come – it’s a positive legacy from Covid!”

Visitors to the exhibition can also safely explore a children’s heritage trail, the dye garden and new benches erected to commemorate the horrific murders of two workers at Sunny Banks Mills in 1971.

In addition, there is also the chance to visit the Gallery’s Body of Water exhibition on line.

The Mills, which were originally built in 1829, have been in the Gaunt family for six generations and are currently owned and managed by cousins John and William. They are now home to 75 companies with a total of almost 400 staff.

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