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.

Rachel Red Builds Bridges!

Rachel Red is joining Mytholmroyd Arts Festival this year to provide a series of print workshops.

If you live in the Calder Valley – you’ve probably seen Rachel’s work, whether it’s a colourful poster for an event somewhere or one of her gorgeous products adorned with woodland animals. Rachel has also done a lot of printing workshops. She really enjoys developing an atmosphere where people get quite meditative as they’re printing – leaving all their troubles at the door.

Rachel is going to be running the MAF print workshops at the Mytton Arts Trust. She says all you’ll need to bring are some clothes you don’t mind getting inky and a willingness to be creative. She’s going to be teaching a technique called collograph – which is a hybrid of collage and printing. Each participant will be able to come along to two workshops. At the first workshop they’ll be building the printing plate using collage techniques. At the end of the first workshop, these prints will be varnished with shellac. During the second workshop the participants will use the plates to make prints, using all the special technology at Myttom.

Navigating our valley with words

In 2019, Mytholmroyd Arts Festival will feature a night of poetry. On Saturday 12th October, we’ll be launching ‘The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry’ and there’ll be open mic slots for anyone who wants to get up and speak. Our guide for the evening will be local poet, Winston Plowes.

Winston says all you need to come along to the evening is a pair of ears and an open mind. He says ‘It’s going to be a less experimental, more accessible night of Poetry and Prose’ and that the audience ‘will have moments when words speak to them. They will hear stories that make them smile, empathise or question’.

The evening will have a very local flavour. Winston believes that living in the Calder Valley affects our emotions profoundly: ‘There is something we benefit from that changes depending upon your altitude. You meet different weather systems, feel different emotions if you’re in the valley bottom or on the tops, every one of the senses has a different experience but all within a handful of miles. You never stop finding new pathways.’

Build a bridge!

This photo of The Shoulder Of Mutton Mytholmroyd is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The theme of the 2019 Mytholmroyd Arts Festival is Building Bridges. One of our workshops is taking this theme very literally. We at MAF HQ put on our high vis jackets to investigate……

Matthew Helbert is a local potter who’s got hold of the type of clay normally used to make bricks. If you go along to his workshop, you’ll be using some clay techniques to make the building blocks for a new bridge. The completed bridge will be on display during the festival. Don’t expect to use it to make any river crossings – the bridge is going to be less than a meter across.

If you go to this workshop you can expect to get your hands a bit muddy and find out about using clay to make sculptures. The workshops are open to everyone over 16.

Matthew says ‘’The unique thing about the Mytholmroyd Arts Festival is that everyone can get involved. You can try your hand at something you’ve never done before or exhibit in the Mytholmroyd Open.”

Details of all the MAF19 workshops and how to sign up will be available in the next few days. Check our Facebook page for up to date information about the Mytholmroyd Arts Festival or sign up for our newsletter via the link on our homepage!

Pizza and Story Telling at Redacre

A new event at Mytholmroyd Arts Festival 2019 will be an afternoon of story telling and pizza at the Redacre Growing Project. To find out more, we at MAF HQ put on our wellies for a walk round the site with Redacre member Leon Hampson.

During the afternoon event there’ll be storytelling, pizzas and bonfire. The pizza oven has just been built and Leon explained that ‘’Redacre will supply the dough and ingredients and the participants can design and make their own pizzas. We’ll cook the pizzas – they can be done in thirty seconds!’’. Redacre have been holding similar events for the last 2 years: ‘’When there are a few people gathered round the fire and the pizza oven there’s a great atmosphere’’.

Redacre felt like a semi tropical haven on the August evening I was there. Bees were buzzing and scent filled the air. There were grapes growing outdoors and huge globe artichokes, almost ready for harvesting. Redcare has raised beds, a pond and lots of fruit trees. Leon told me ‘’We have an apple press and in early October we have a tradition of members coming along to fill demijohns with juice’’.

Leon explained how being part of Redacre benefits both physical and mental health: “You see people coming along and just forgetting all their troubles’’.

Redacre is run cooperatively and there are nearly 90 members registered at the moment. For a £5 annual subscription, you can join as a Friend of Redacre and use the space, pick fruit from the community orchard and join in regular Community Days.

Redacre has links with other community groups too. For example, they’ve worked with We Grow Together and Calder Primary have their own allotment. Getting involved with Mytholmroyd Arts Festival felt like a very natural fit for Redacre.

Watch this space for more details of the MAF event at Redacre…….


For the first time, Mytholmroyd Arts Festival 2019 will be running printmaking workshops with the kind help of the Mytton Trust. There hasn’t been tradition of printmaking in the valley.  Mytton Arts Trust are printing pioneers and provide a friendly  team, fantastic equipment and a beautiful venue in Mytholmroyd.

We can guarantee that if you join our workshop you will have a lot of fun! You don’t need to bring any experience of drawing or print making. You’ll leave with a piece of printed work, which may be the first piece of art you’ve made since school! Your work can also go on display during the festival exhibition.

Since leaving art school, Kathy Mytton had a long term interest in etching and decided to set up Mytton Trust as a community based charity in Mytholmroyd. Andy Bolton was appointed to run the workshop. Andy had never done any printing before but now provides excellent technical support.  Andy confessed to MAF HQ that the first time he did any printing, he was so chuffed with the results, he burst into tears!

There will be two workshops each for over 60s and under 60s. The workshops will be led by a local artist specialising in print, with Andy providing the technical help. Participants will be using different printing techniques for the workshops.

Expect – fun, friendliness, inspiration!

And don’t forget: You can now submit your 2D work to the Mytholmroyd Open Art Exhibition.  There are now only 4 weeks left to submit your work.

Craftivism comes back to Calderdale

Craftism has been around a long, long time. 100 years ago hand made banners played a huge part in the Peterloo rebellion. You can see some examples of this type of craftism in the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

Us at Mytholmroyd Arts Festival HQ remember with fondness and sadness the AIDS Quilt of the 1980s, where each panel celebrated the life of someone who had died of AIDS, but also served as a focus of protest.

In the last few years, the number of people doing crafts has surged and Craftivism has become a big deal again, according to a report in Sunday’s Observer. The article contains some great stories of the impact Craftism has had – for example persuading bosses at M&S to adopt a minimum wage policy.

Fabric and sewing have always had an important part to play in Calderdale. We love a good bit of cross stitch, here at MAF HQ, and one of the workshops at the 2019 festival is going to be devoted to Craftivism. So if we have raised your interest, look out for information about our workshop programme which will be available soon.  Watch this space…