For the past 38 years we have been championing contemporary craft in the vibrant city of Leeds to shine a spotlight on independent makers and their small businesses from across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK. Through an exciting seasonal exhibition programme we highlight the skills behind handmade and share their inspiring stories. Bringing these amazing collections of contemporary craft together under one roof has created a haven for many visitors to escape the stresses of daily life & create mindful experiences. Please help us keep the gallery and the hundreds of small businesses we support alive by donating what you can so we can continue to keep bringing the very best of contemporary craft to you and help us and these creative industries thrive.
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As the launch for our 35th anniversary show draws nearer it's great to hear from our Director Hayley Walker in another Where are They Now post. Hayley began an artistic journey at Loughborough College of Art and Design where she gained a BA Hons in Textile Design. Her field of interest was embroidery and constructive textiles where she developed a keen eye for detail and commitment to contemporary design. Her time with The Craft Centre and Design Gallery began with a two week work placement in her second year; little did she know that she would still be there 27 years later, leading the gallery in a remarkable celebration of their 35th anniversary.
Over the years there have been many makers that have inspired Hayley but one that stands out is watching the journey of inspiring maker Samantha Bryan. Samantha graduated in 2001 from Hereford College of Art & Design. Hayley first discovered her beautiful work when she drove down to her end of year show in her untrustworthy Seat Marbella. “I was absolutely entranced and completely taken in by the whole story of Samantha’s work. I wanted to nurture this creativity.” Samantha commented on being selected for their 35th anniversary shows and remembers this time too; “It is a real treat to be included in an exhibition celebrating 35 years of The Craft Centre. As a gallery they have supported my work since before I stepped out of university over 16 years ago...travelling hours to my degree show. Early interest and support from gallery staff gave me the motivation and confidence to keep making in the early days when I had wobbly knees and a very small voice.”
Hayley has a large personal collection of Samantha’s work which is treasured and loved. Her very first item was a piece she had asked Samantha to adapt as it was what held her business cards in from her degree show. You can see it pictured above on the left. Hayley's two cats Betty and Wilma and her very first house were depicted in the item making it a piece to treasure for many years to come. Nine fairies later she can certainly all herself a collector! The most treasured from her collection is the Snow fairy which she saved up for over several months. Hayley loves her mad hair and her leg warmers. You can see this piece pictured above on the right and below are just some of the fairy sculptures from her collection...a truly stunning display and well loved collection!!
“My whole house is a tribute to The Craft Centre and Design Gallery; a real eclectic mix of craft from such talented individuals. To the left of this sculpture in the above image are two Sally Bradley pots and a family favourite is Lola, a textile sculpture by Bryony Rose (pictured below). She sits on guard watching out for us in our glass room. She is massively loved, a wonderful reminder to well loved pets Betty and Wilma no longer with us." To the right of Lola is a large pot by renowned ceramicist Sheila Boyce which if you can believe it makes a most comfortable foot rest (but only for the most careful of house guests)!
You'll be able to see new pieces by Samantha Bryan for The Craft Centre's anniversary shows from the 4th November...I wonder if Hayley will be adding to her treasured fairy collection!