Yesterday, I visited Saltaire, which I seldom get to despite it being one of my favourite places. It’s near Bradford in West Yorkshire, and is named after Sir Titus Salt who built the huge textile mill, known as Salts Mill and the village on the River Aire. Designed by architects, Lockwood and Mawson, Salts Mill was opened on Sir Titus Salt’s 50th birthday, 20 September 1853. In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It really is a beautiful building, more like a stately home than a remnant of the Industrial Revolution, and there are several reasons why I like it so much.
The village surrounding the mill is made up of rows of well-built, even ornate dwellings and almshouses, and the mill itself has a large area cultivated as allotments.
The building has become dedicated to the work of David Hockney, and houses one of the largest collections of his art. The long, high rooms themselves have an air of tranquility which is almost like a cathedral; one steps quietly and contemplatively, browsing both Hockney’s artworks and the wide range of art-books and materials on display, whilst quiet pastoral music plays and echoes off the vaulted ceiling. On the top floor there is a restaurant, and a large gallery space where Hockney’s Arrival of Spring in Woldgate is currently exhibited. The images, all produced on an i-pad and printed in large scale format are so much more than the sum of their parts. I love them; they are reminiscent of Bawden and Ravilious to me.
Another reason for my all too rare visits here is the Early Music Shop, which sells all manner of medieval and renaissance instruments, from Spinets and harps, to recorders, serpentines, lutes and rebecs. It was the harp weekend and I had my lovely harp serviced at no cost. It tinkles like a bell again :-)