MAF Highlights 2019

Did you come along to the Mytholmroyd Open? There was a lot going on there – nearly 100 pieces of work, cakes, a ukulele band and prizes! You can read more about the prize winners here. And if you’d like to send any comments about the Open – please send them to – we love to get feedback.

The story telling event at Redacre allotments was lovely…..a dry afternoon, a heron circling over head, wonderful stories from the fabulous Christine McMahon and delicious home made pizzas baked on the spot by the Redacre team. Yum.

Over at the Mytton Arts Trust, there was a great exhibition of the worked produced by our community workshop. A top tip for this winter is to sign up for the Christmas Card Making workshops at Mytton.

Just days to go….

This Saturday (12th) Mytholmroyd Arts Festival will be holding a poetry evening at St Michael’s. This will be a brilliant opportunity to hear readings from Gaia Holmes, Becky Cherriman, Jane Burns and Winston Plowes. But we’ll also featuring Anne Caldwell, who will be both reading and launching her new book, The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry.

MAF HQ buttoned up it’s water-poofs this afternoon to go and meet Anne and see what’s on her mind. Anne has lived in the valley for 13 years and says she’s enjoyed every minute of it: ‘’I think the valley seen as being a very open welcoming place and there is a good strong sense of community – with fantastic arts facilities such as studio spaces, writing organisations, the cinema and music scene. Once there is a hub of people, I think more free spirited people come and really enjoy living here’’. 

We asked Anne what kind of experience people who don’t usually read poetry would have at the poetry evening: ‘’ I think the best way to get into poetry is to hear it live, and meet the people who write it. This evening should be really good fun, with an open mic section so that people can hear some new, local voices, and then some writers from The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry – so a really good insight into a new and interesting way of writing, that seems perfect for our times. ‘’

The theme for this year’s Mytholmroyd Arts Festival is Building Bridges. Anne explained why the new anthology is a good fit: ‘’The whole idea behind the anthology that we are launching was to bring together voices from all over the UK, and celebrate our connections. So to launch it as part of a Building Bridges festival seems perfect‘’. She’s convinced that poetry itself can build bridges: ‘‘I have run workshops in the past for a whole range of people, including school pupils, community writing groups, people with mental health issues, women’s groups, older people. I have found that writing listening and sharing writing really brings people together.’’

Frame Up

At Mytholmroyd Arts Festival HQ, we’re very grateful for the support of quite a few local businesses. Abacus Picture Framing & Gallery is one such local employer, offering a 10% discount for work which has been accepted for the Mytholmroyd Open. Abacus also give some great advice about the best type of frames and glass to use and have a decent gallery of local artists.

Abacus Framing has been in Mytholmroyd for over 40 years. Vince, from Abacus, appreciates how ”The residents and local businesses are very supportive of each other, especially after the disastrous floods of 2015”.

Entries to the Mytholmroyd Open are now closed, but you’ll be able to visit the exhibition on the 19th and 20th October. There are still places available on our workshops.

Following Suit

The 2019 Mytholmroyd Arts Festival workshops have been underway for the last couple of weeks. A sneak preview shows Mytholmroyd resident Sue Mitchell getting inked up at the lino print workshop.

  • Mytholmroyd Arts Festival
  • Mytholmroyd Arts Festival

There are still places on the following free workshops, which the WEA are hosting for the festival;

  • Art For Wellbeing. 15th October – info here
  • Drawing for Health.16th October – info here
  • Poetry and Wellbeing. 18th October – info here

Poetry and Wellbeing.

This year, Mytholmroyd Arts Festival includes Poetry and Wellbeing, a workshop co-produced with the WEA. Reading or writing poetry can be a good way of getting in touch with emotions. Here at Mytholmroyd Arts Festival HQ we can confirm that poems can be soothing or stimulating. This workshop is a taster session for how poetry can be used as a tool kit to improve our health and happiness.

The workshop is being delivered by local resident Sally Baker: ‘’I’ve lived in Mytholmroyd for twenty years. I like the valley and its mix of people; there are lots of writers, artists and musicians here; there’s always something interesting going on and plenty to do. I found it to be a perfect balance; beautiful countryside close by.’’ 

We were interested to know if Sally was affected by the floods: ‘’Although we weren’t directly affected by the floods at home, I think the disruptions caused have had a long term impact on people’s lives in the village. Like many people, we spent the week between Boxing Day and New Year 2016 with mops and brooms, helping with the recovery. My Dad died just before that Christmas, so it was a bleak time. Three years on, the daily traffic hold ups affect travel times and have affected local businesses. Mytholmroyd still feels like something broken that’s in the process of being mended.’’

We’re sure a lot of people in the valley share these feelings….

MAF HQ wanted to know what people will need to bring to the workshop? ‘’Enthusiasm is always a great thing to bring. In fact, it’s fine to bring along any feeling, as the theme is Poetry and Wellbeing, so we’ll be looking at how poetry can help us to feel better, to have a better understanding of each other and the world. The main thing participants will need (apart from writing materials) is a willingness to try both reading and writing poetry. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done either before’’. 

That sounds great! What will participants leave with?‘’I’m hoping participants will leave with a sense of well being, as a result of sharing poems. Also, some resources for where to find poems that might help in different situations, and some ideas for how to take their poetry writing further’’.

You can read more about Sally here (link to ). The workshop is on Friday 18/10 at 1.30. You can book a place here.

Story Telling – from Christine McMahon

Christine McMahon performs “The Goosewing” at the Settle Victoria Hall, opening the 3rd Annual Settle Storytelling Festival 2012.

This year, Mytholmroyd Arts Festival is holding a unique event in collaboration with Redacre Growing Project. Christine McMahon, a story teller who has captivated international audiences, will be drawing us into her magical world. In the gorgeous setting of Redacre, Christine will use the power of her words to slow our brains right down, transport us to special places and introduce us to some amazing characters.

Christine McMahon has lived in Calderdale since the 70s, initially in Mytholmroyd when her children  were young and currently up in Colden. She says there’s a lot to love about living in Calderdale: The strong sense of place, the changing seasons and the proximity of wildlife are all important to her.

Christine has worked in Restorative Justice and as a Story Teller for many years. She feels that there is a huge overlap between these areas of work, for example, many stories are about people on a long search for justice. On the other hand, people seeking justice often benefit from having their stories truly heard. You can see more about Christine’s work and background here.

Everybody will be welcome to the story telling event at Redacre Growing Project this October. Christine usually waits to get a feel for the audience before embarking on a story – so the story will be suitable for all ages. Don’t forget that the story telling event is taking place in a garden/allotment setting when you’re planning what to wear!

What can the audience expect to take away from the event? A sense of wonder!

Find out more about the event here.

The Sixties: Music, Culture, Politics.

This year, Mytholmroyd Arts Festival is co producing three workshops with the WEA in October. You can still sign up for these through the workshops page.

In the mean time, WEA are launching a new series of daytime talks about The Sixties, which you can read more about here. The course is being delivered by Simon Warner, who lives in Halifax and has taught Popular Music at Leeds University. Simon is an established author on pop history. This series of talks will also cover the politics and social change of the era.

We at MAF HQ love to get our Ya Yas out – and we hope to see you there.

Bridges Built, Barriers Down.

Mary Loney and Mytholmroyd Arts’ Annie Harrison. (Photo RO’D)

This week, we interview Annie Harrison, Artistic Director for Mytholmroyd Arts Festival.

I asked Annie what made her establish the MAF. ‘’I moved to Mytholmroyd in 2013, a year after the 2012 floods. It was very sad to see many retail businesses struggling or closing down. My background is arts and health research and I wondered if the arts could help reverse this situation. I asked around, and people were enthusiastic.  So in 2015 we had our first festival and organised a massive ten day event.

Then came the 2015 Boxing Day floods.  In 2016, after everything we had gone through, there was an even greater need for a festival, but there were still no venues to hold events in, they had all been damaged in the flood.  But we didn’t give up.  We focused on outdoor events like an Art Trail, and the fantastic Night Market and Fire Show.

Why did you choose the theme ‘Building Bridges’ for this year’s Festival?

‘’The floods were terrible and the flood alleviation work has also had a huge impact on the village.  But we have also seen the community come together in an amazing way, think of the work of the Flood Wardens and there are many other examples.  So the theme is not just about physical bridges but also the bridges between people.

I asked Annie what she thought was special about the Mytholmroyd Arts Festival. ‘We try to specialise in giving people an opportunity to see and get involved in really good art.  There are no barriers at MAF – everything is free, everything is local and, most importantly, everyone can participate’.

I think Annie is right – well over 200 adults and children will be doing workshops or exhibiting, – let alone all the visitors who come to see the exhibitions, but will also see what a special place we live in.   What a great way to celebrate Mytholmroyd!

Stan says…..

This year, the prize for the Mytholmroyd Open arts competition has been kindly donated by Stan Wilson. Stan wrote about why bridges are so important to him and his family:

This tiny driftwood bridge  was designed and built by my 6 year old while playing on the beach.  Other bridges have shaped my life this last couple of years.

My dad lived on the wrong side of the Copley bridge, washed away in the Boxing day floods. He died as an indirect consequence of that. Copley school kids voted to name the replacement ‘Wilson Bridge‘ after him.

Upstream in Mytholmroyd, me and my colleagues suck up the daily congestion and toxic exhaust pollution triggered by the Caldene Bridge works. ‘Turn your engine off when stationary‘ the unread signs say. 

I’ve seen many changes in Mytholmroyd, since moving here from Halifax as a 17 year old, 26 years ago. Some positive, others less so. Later in life I founded FACTORYLUX  in Mytholmroyd. 

We’re only as successful as the local talent we’re able to hire. Gentrification is making it harder for working class people to live here, especially younger age groups. I worry about that.

We all have a duty to think long term and do the right thing locally, especially business owners.

That’s why we’re one of the UK’s original Living Wage employers, hosted local school kids, engaged in local elections and launched an apprenticeship. 

It’s also why we’re sponsoring the MO prize at Mytholmroyd Arts festival 2019.

Good luck local artists!. 

PS. If any of you can work out how to get stationary cars on Burnley, Cragg and Midgley roads to switch engines off… we’d sponsor that.

Catch Up With Clare Pearl

Submissions for the 2019 Mytholmroyd Open arts exhibition close on Friday 6th September. The last Mytholmroyd Open was won by Clare Pearl, with a painting called ‘Inspecting the Hydrogen Bomb’. We at MAF HQ were keen to find out what happened to Clare after she won the prize, so we tracked her down to her studio a bit further up the valley.

Clare studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths and was a practicing artist and filmmaker for 16 years. She then retrained as a counsellor but still paints in her spare time, for her own enjoyment. She told us ‘‘Winning the Mytholmroyd Open was a fantastic moment for me and I felt encouraged by it. The Mytholmroyd Open is a great opportunity for artists of all levels of experience to show their work together’’.  It was good to hear that winning the MO was a ‘’big boost to my confidence’’ – even for someone who was clearly experienced in the art world.

Clare obviously loves living in the valley. The local landscape inspires some of her work, as in this dramatic painting of Pudsey Clough in Cornholme, depicting the source of Red Water stream and it’s journey to meet the River Calder in the valley below. Clare is about to take part in the Todmorden Open Studios POP UP event on the 13,14, 15th of September 2019, and you can see this painting and others in the House des Löwe (opposite the Golden Lion) that weekend and all through September. To find out more visit here.