The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

"Идите уверенно по направлению к мечте. Живите той жизнью, которую вы сами себе придумали." Генри Дэвид Торо ZMEY
Время на прочтение: 9 минут(ы)

As often happens, it took leaving the north for me to really appreciate what I had under my nose all along. I grew up in Leeds, West Yorkshire’s biggest city, but it was only when I returned home after a six-year stint in London that I realised that the kind of boundary-pushing, artist-run institutions and innovative enterprises I cherished – and thought unique to the capital – were also brewing among the industrious sandstone towns and brooding moorlands of my home county.

My own short-sightedness wasn’t entirely to blame. While the place has long produced great talents – David Hockney (Bradford), Barbara Hepworth (Wakefield), Henry Moore (Castleford) and, love him or loathe him, Damien Hirst (Leeds) – it has gone through an artistic growth spurt in the past decade or so and now has the spaces to match, beginning with the redevelopment of the impressive Leeds Art Gallery, which adjoins the Henry Moore Institute, in 2007. These buildings form one point of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, which was christened in 2013 and is completed by the rolling, figure-studded green hills of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield, whose David Chipperfield-designed concrete squares up against the red-brick Victorian mills across the River Calder.

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

The Art House in Wakefield

David Lindsay

It would be remiss to think this triumvirate is all it has to offer. There’s a flourishing grass-roots creative scene here: edgy new players making a name for themselves at post-industrial sites; lively, reverberant, neighbourhood-led efforts; and a growing sense of energy in anticipation of the cultural festival Leeds 2023.

If the county is missing anything, it is funding. Having benefited from millions of public and National Lottery pounds for large, prestigious schemes, it might appear buoyant. But its arts community is mostly made up of voluntary organisations run on a shoestring, meaning they are particularly vulnerable right now. Despite this, West Yorkshire’s heart is beating as strong as ever and, in what’s likely to be a sickly few years for the arts, our often ridiculed penny-pinching spirit could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The best art in Yorkshire

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

To Breathe by Kimsooja at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Kimsooja, To Breathe, 2019. Courtesy the artist and YSP

Open-air art


Where expression meets nature, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a 500-acre, open-air gallery celebrating the area’s craft heritage against an ever-changing backdrop of big skies and looming horizons. Sheep brush shoulders with Henry Moore bronzes, Anthony Caro’s abstract shapes promenade by the lake and imposing works by Ai Weiwei, Phyllida Barlow and James Turrell compete for attention amid the landscape.

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

The Weston at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yuki Sugiura

One of the latest additions is The Weston visitor centre, a squat, wood-and-glass structure that is almost sculptural in itself, which was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2019. It contains a cosy exhibition area, shop and café serving provenance-driven plates of whipped North Yorkshire goat’s cheese with figs and slow-cooked local pork belly with a honey-and-rosemary glaze. A sign of the growing momentum, hotelier-gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth have chosen 18th-century Palladian mansion Bretton Hall within these grounds as their next project. Plenty of time to open, then, before the next Yorkshire Sculpture International in 2023, following the success of 2019’s debut. It’s no coincidence that this aligns with Leeds 2023, the European Capital of Culture bid cancelled by Brexit and reimagined as a year-long bonanza of northern creativity.

Address: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield WF43 4LG


Telephone: +44 1924 832631


Website: ysp.org.uk

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Months of Neon Love project by Richard Wheater and Victoria Lucas in Wakefield

hotographer: Victoria Lucas Project: 12 MONTHS OF NEON LOVE Artists: Richard Wheater / Victoria Lucas Location: Wakefield

Supersized neon

Many people in Yorkshire are familiar with neon artist Richard Wheater, though they might not know it – his works illuminate the sides of hotels and rooftop bars. As it should be: West Yorkshire is the former centre of neon-light making. Wheater founded Neon Workshops a decade ago and his rugged Wakefield studio acts as a teaching and display space. From mid October, there will be pieces by artist and photographer Steve Fitch, such as his legendary eight-foot ‘Insane-o-matic’ sign, and in January, a rare showcase of neon pioneer Fred Tschida in partnership with The Art House, a popular hands-on hub that’s home to emerging creators as well as classes on everything from gelli printing to reuse-and-recycle embroidery.

Address: Neon Workshops, 70 George Street, Wakefield WF1 1DL


Telephone: +44 1924 200069


Website: neonworkshops.com

Address: The Art House, Drury Lane, Wakefield, WF1 2TE


Telephone: +44 1924 312000


Website: the-arthouse.org.uk

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Barbara Hepworth’s Mother and Child at The Hepworth in Wakefield

Hepworth-Barbara-Mother-and-Child, The Hepworth, Wakefield

Original sculptures

Modern and original, The Hepworth Wakefield is a striking sight beside the river, the angular, moody structures contrasting with the city’s yellow-hued Yorkshire stone. For the museum’s 10-year anniversary in 2021, its naturally lit rooms will house a unique retrospective of Hepworth’s carvings and drawings, along with 44 surviving prototypes in plaster, aluminium and wood, many of which show the marks of her own hands and tools. Outside, the Tom Stuart Smith-designed garden, which partially opened last summer, is bedding in nicely.

Address: The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield WF1 5AW


Telephone: +44 1924 247360


Website: hepworthwakefield.org

David Hockney’s hometown

The neat rows of houses and manicured park in Victorian model village Saltaire, on the outskirts of Bradford, are worth a wander. But it’s the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s artistic bent that makes the place more curious, with its annual Arts Trail turning homes into contemporary galleries and street party YardFest. When it opened in 1853, vast and atmospheric Salts Mill was the world’s largest industrial building. Today, it is filled with food joints, antiques sellers, bookshops and collections including pivotal prints by David Hockney.

Address: Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Saltaire, West Yorkshire BD18 3LA


Telephone: +44 1274 530 533


Website: saltsmill.org.uk

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Briggate Street in Leeds

Matthew Porter

Things to do in Bradford

To call a whole city a hidden gem seems absurd, but Bradford is rarely on – let alone at the top of – must-visit lists. Undeservedly so: in 2019 it was declared Britain’s ‘most improved’ city and is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2025. So where better to support up-and-coming creatives? Described as ‘arts-regeneration mavericks’, Eleanor Barrett and Rosie Freeman of The Brick Box relocated their off-beat outfit here from London. Their base, The Brick Box Rooms, an eccentric bar set in a former butchers’ and pie shop on Bradford’s oldest street, hosts tinfoil-covered, outer-spacethemed discos organised by adults with learning difficulties and house bands who play songs about cats. The pair also matchmake creative happenings to take place in abandoned locations, such as immersive theatre productions and social events for female-led collective Speakers’ Corner.

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Theatre in the Mill in Bradford

Ed Waring

Nearby, the Impressions Gallery presents meaningful, socially charged photography, while The Peace Museum collates more than 7,000 peace and protest items, exploring conscientious objectors, LGBTQ+ activism and the early Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament movement. On the University of Bradford campus, Theatre in the Mill puts on performances and exhibitions that amplify marginalised voices. Meanwhile, Kala Sangam is an intercultural and South Asian arts centre with a rooftop café overlooking Bradford Cathedral.

Address: The Impresions Gallery, Aldermanbury, Bradford BD1 1SD


Telephone: +44 1274 737843


Website: impressionsgallery.com

Address: The Peace Museum, 10 Piece Hall Yard, Bradford BD1 1PJ


Telephone: +44 1274 780241


Website: peacemuseum.org.uk

Address: Theatre in the Mill, University of, Bradford BD7 1DP


Telephone: +44 1274 233200


Website: theatreinthemill.com

Address: Kala Sangam, St Peter’s House, 1 Forster Court, Bradford BD1 4TY


Telephone:


Website: kalasangam.org

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

The Piece Hall in Halifax

Paul White

Where to eat in Halifax

It is hard to imagine Halifax without the monumental Piece Hall. Though the former heart of cloth trading has existed in some form for centuries, it became a hive of activity after renovations were completed in 2017. Now it holds open-air concerts and street-food markets in its expansive courtyard, as well as independent boutiques and family-friendly experiences. Among the artisanal ice cream and cake spots, seek out Elder, arguably one of the top restaurants in Yorkshire. Chef Justin Thomas has packed a lot into the long galley, where he plates clever and quirky British dishes.

Address: The Piece Hall, Blackledge, Halifax HX1 1RE


Telephone: +44 1422 525200


Website: thepiecehall.co.uk

Address: Elder, Unit 17 Piece Hall, Halifax HX1 1RE


Telephone: +44 1422 414445


Website: thisiselder.com

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds

Jasper Cole

The best of Burley

In the past decade, Left Bank Leeds, once a run-down late-Gothic Revival church, in the north-western suburb of Burley has become a thrumming hotspot for the community. Recently, it displayed a massive, winding inflatable installation by Michael Shaw. At Hyde Park Book Club, a short walk away, founder Jack Simpson has cultivated a bohemian bar and events space in a done-up garage, which, just up the road from three universities, is a meeting place for makers, musicians and thinkers, equally likely to be there for gigs by alternative bands and illustration exhibits as openletter readings and zine launches. It has one of the best selections of beer in the city, books on the walls can be borrowed and there’s also a plant shop.

Address: Left Bank Leeds, Cardigan Road, Burley, Leeds LS6 1LJ


Telephone: +44 113 278 5822


Website: leftbankleeds.org.uk

Address: Hyde Park Book Club, 27-29 Headingley Lane, Headingley, Leeds LS6 1BL


Telephone: +44 7984 449361


Website: hydeparkbookclub.co.uk

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Leeds

Harry Meadley

21st Century textiles

In the 1800s and early 1900s, West Yorkshire was the worsted textile capital of the world. Though there are still one or two active woollen mills, the industry’s decline has left behind many grand, empty shells that are only now being redeveloped. One of the most interesting is Sunny Bank Mills, in the village of Farsley in west Leeds, which has been in the Gaunt family for almost two centuries; William Gaunt leads weaving lessons here on a 100-year-old loom. The rest of the complex comprises studios, restaurants, shops and workspaces, making it a new-wave village centre.

Address: Sunny Bank Mills, 82-85 Town Street, Farsley, Pudsey LS28 5UJ


Telephone: +44 113 426 7368


Website: sunnybankmills.co.uk

The coolest places to visit in Yorkshire

Left Bank Leeds

Joseph Perez / unsplash

Where to find the best art in Leeds

With its cutting-edge fine-art school, Leeds is an epicentre of creative energy and the final point in the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, with Leeds Art Gallery and the next-door Henry Moore Institute. But it is East Street Arts that is the real driving force in shaping the area’s fresh scene. As well as supporting artists and transforming properties into temporary studios, the charity is behind the A City Less Grey project, which commissioned the 154ft Athena Rising mural, the tallest piece of street art in the UK, on the side of Bruntwood’s Platform building. Next spring, it has plans for a series of works to take over Mabgate and neighbouring Burmantofts, such as Afrofuturist gatherings, neon-green houses, public dinner parties and sculptural wind turbines. A 20-minute walk south of the centre, The Tetley is a contemporary gallery in the converted Art Deco Tetley Brewery. The buzzing hangout is notable for shining a spotlight on diverse budding names, many of whom are making their debut.

Address: Henry Moore Institute, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AH


Telephone: +44 113 246 7467


Website: henry-moore.org

Address: East Street Arts, St Mary’s Lane, Leeds LS9 7EH


Telephone: +44 113 248 0040


Website: eaststreetarts.org.uk

Address: The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds LS10 1JQ


Telephone: +44 113 320 2323


Website: thetetley.org

Where to stay in West Yorkshire

The concentration of big towns and small cities in West Yorkshire allows for a variety of places to bed down, from the Art Hostel in Leeds to country estates. Somewhere between the two, Manor House Lindley in Huddersfield is a design-award-winning hotel set inside a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion with 11 distinctive bedrooms; some are lined with William Morris wallpaper while another has a Nordic-style bathroom in the eaves.

Address: Art Hostel, New York Road, Leeds LS9 7DW


Telephone: +44 113 248 0040


Website: arthostel.org.uk


Please note Art Hostel is due to reopen in 2021

Address: Manor House Lindley, 1 Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield HD3 3JB


Telephone: +44 1484 504000


Website: manorhouselindley.co.uk

Scroll down for more photographs of Yorkshire’s creative scene…

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