Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Flower Festival

The floral displays at St Peter's, Shipley, celebrate the life of the church and the many groups and organisations that find their home within our church community and buildings. The tea set display above commemorates our 'Marthas and Arthurs' group who provide refreshments on Sunday mornings between the church services.

The white flowers celebrate our Healing Prayer team, who are available to pray individually with people after church services and at other times. 

The cheerful yellow display celebrates our Cub and Scout groups that have run regularly for generations in our church halls, as have the girls' Brownies and Guides.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Believe in Shipley

Another festival! The Christian churches in our local area have joined forces to put together an ambitious ten days of events celebrating our Christian faith, from 23 September to 2 October. The 'Believe in Shipley' programme includes a big picnic in Roberts Park (Sat 1 Oct), a scratch gospel choir singing in various places, a rugby skills masterclass with a top player from Leeds Rhinos rugby league club (Tues 27 Sept), an evening with the Archbishop of York (Mon 26th) in Saltaire's Victoria Hall and many other events at various venues. There's an art exhibition in Saltaire's Methodist church and a flower festival and photographic exhibition in my own church, St Peter's.

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Saltaire Festival 2016 - The longest queues in Roberts Park seemed to be for the candy floss, though maybe that simply reflected the time it takes to twirl one huge ball of the floss on a stick. It is really like magic watching it grow, caught from little wisps of what look like smoke (but are in fact sugar candy) being blown from a machine. It is variously called cotton candy, papa's beard, dragon's beard or fairy floss. In Britain it is generally known as candy floss but the trade name for this seller was Fairy Floss - and it came complete with sparkly sprinkles if you really wanted the extra bling. It's a long time since I tasted any. My vague recollection is that it is a bit like sucking on shards of glass until it softens in your mouth!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Street food

Saltaire Festival 2016 - There are booths set up either side of the entire length of Exhibition Road that sell international street food, confectionery and savoury things like olives and cheese. You can take your pick of dishes cooked in huge shallow pans: paella was on offer here, or you could have had tartiflette (potatoes cooked with reblochon cheese), moules mariniere or a Provencal tomatoey stew that looked pretty good. If you've a sweet tooth... maybe an ice cream, churros dipped in chocolate, massive slabs of chocolate 'rocky road' or a huge pink meringue?

Friday, 23 September 2016


Saltaire Festival 2016 -  A trio of buskers were serenading the crowds on the way down Victoria Road. I couldn't see anything that told you who they were, unfortunately. They played nice, folk-based music though.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A bit crowded

Saltaire Festival 2016 - The second weekend of the Festival has a very different character from the first and seems to attract people from much further afield. It's less creative and artsy and much more commercial. There is a live music stage and lots of food and drink stalls in Roberts Park, plus a market selling all manner of things. Then in the heart of the village on Exhibition Road there's another lot of tents, mostly selling street food, with live music from a stage in the carpark of Caroline's (the club) plus a few buskers scattered around the streets.

I can't say that it appeals to me a great deal. It all seems rather excessive, mostly designed to part people from their money! It is always very crowded though, so obviously a lot of people do enjoy it. This is the line of people trying to get into the park. I've been laid low with a heavy cold so I didn't feel like going out at all really. The weather, however, was unusually perfect - sunny and warm. (Annoying to feel so ill on such a lovely weekend!) I did dose up on paracetamol and venture out for an hour or so, just to get a few photos, though I can never really work out how to capture the atmosphere.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Sea shells?

Saltaire Festival 2016 - This was a lovely early autumn back garden, full of soft shades of pink and gold. It is much bigger than the Saltaire yards because it belongs to a house on the estate adjacent to Saltaire. They were built as social housing in the 1920s or 30s, I believe. Anyway, it is really nice to see participation in the Festival spreading beyond the World Heritage Site boundary into its 'buffer zone', as the surrounding areas are called. This little oasis was surprisingly peaceful, apart perhaps from when a train passes by on the nearby line, though they are mostly electric trains and thus relatively quiet.

The garden held a couple of resin sculptures by Maddy Smith, reminiscent of sea shells.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'We only print in blood-red'

Saltaire Festival 2106 - Sally Barker created these ceramic pieces, each made from individual pieces of clay squeezed and pinched to capture the fingerprints and then glazed blood-red. They explore 'the mark we make and our complex and often difficult relationship with the world, on an environmental and psychological level, using the intimate to reflect a global perspective'.

They seemed to ooze out of the wall like fungus or maybe wasps' nests. I found them both repellent and fascinating in equal measure.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Organic forms

Saltaire Festival 2016 - More of the sculptures exhibited in Saltaire's back gardens during the Festival. The bronze metal sculpture above is by Joanne Risley, whose work is inspired by the sculptural forms, repeating patterns and internal structures which occur in nature. This one references pollen grains, I believe.

The curious tubes below are made of recycled fabric cast in wax. They almost looked as though they were growing out of the earth. The artist is Sophie Giller.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Flooding leads to hanging

Saltaire Festival 2016 - You will recall the dreadful flooding that happened in this area on Boxing Day 2015. Thankfully my home was fine but my workplace was inundated and it is only now, exactly nine months later, that we are able to move back to occupy it again. Ironically, we are moving back just two days before I retire! Hardly seems worth it, really!

The theme of the floods played a part in this year's Saltaire Festival, with a performance: 'Too much of Water', drawing on people's experiences. There was also an exhibition on the top floor of Salts Mill. 'The Power of Water' displayed colourful artwork by the children in our local schools and photographs taken by local people. Two of my photos were chosen and I was chuffed to bits* to see them printed and hanging on the wall.

* 'chuffed to bits' means 'very pleased, with slight overtones of surprise or embarrassment', for those who don't speak the dialect!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Salma Patel

Saltaire Festival 2016 - Salma Patel is a talented artist who carves cast plaster and different types of stone and marble. Her work draws on her cultural heritage as a British, Indian, Muslim woman and references architecture, nature and landscape as well as the rituals and rhythm of everyday life. She showed some bigger pieces at the Arts Trail in May but I enjoyed seeing these smaller motif pieces, which fitted nicely into the garden setting. She's a real enthusiast and was well on the way to encouraging me to try carving for myself!  It does rather appeal, though I think you have to be quite strong to do it so I'd need to build a few more muscles.

I really liked these smooth, curvy leaf shapes - very tactile.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Good Life

Saltaire Festival 2016 - The tiny backyard featured here was advertised with the strapline 'The Good Life in miniature'. The Good Life was a TV sit-com in the late 1970s that revolved around the antics of a couple trying to become totally self-sufficient in their suburban garden. This Saltaire yard was packed full of edible plants: herbs, fruits and vegetables. I noticed tomatoes of different varieties, including some luscious-looking deep purple ones, yellow courgettes (zucchini), beans, potatoes, salad leaves and even sweetcorn growing in pots (almost as high as an elephant's eye!) The edible plants were interspersed with splashes of colour from pretty flowers, including cyclamens in many shades, but many of the vegetables were attractive and colourful in their own right.

There were also some small sculptures exhibited: 'Guardians of Time' by the Austrian sculptor, Manfred Kielnhofer. These were miniature versions of the hooded, monk-like figures that he suggests are watching over mankind. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Open gardens

Saltaire Festival 2016 - It is perhaps not as brave as opening your house to visitors (which happens during Saltaire's Arts Trail every spring) but it still takes courage and a lot of hard work to open your garden to all comers. People who have never actually visited Saltaire might be surprised to realise how tiny our gardens are. Many of the small terraced houses in the main part of the village have small yards only about 4 or 5 metres square, often with an outhouse that was once the 'privvy'.

It is always amazing to see what people have managed to pack into them. The longer I spent in this yard the more I noticed: old buckets used as planters and even a WWII air raid warden's tin, that may once have held a gas mask or first aid kit, artfully planted with campanulas.

Spot the little mouse peeping out from behind a pot in the photo below... and the table looks as though it may have been an old treadle sewing machine. So much to look at ... but you have to tear yourself away to let the next lot of visitors in. The yards will only comfortably accommodate two or three people at a time!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Willow wildlife

Saltaire Festival 2016 - This small boy seemed to believe the little prancing foal was real... and indeed, it looked very believable. The sculptor, Anna Turnbull, seems to have a knack of capturing the essence of an animal using only woven strips of willow. There is something about willow art that I really love, and it's interesting how different artists use the willow differently. These are constructed more loosely and with broader strips than those I saw in Wales recently (here and here) but were just as effective. Anna had also made the rabbit below, displayed in a pretty backyard with an Alice In Wonderland theme.