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The Piece Hall partners with Yorkshire Sculpture Park on their first sculpture commission

03 Dec 2018

THE BLANKET by David Murphy
25 January–7 April 2019
The first visual arts commission from The Piece Hall Trust will be unveiled in the iconic courtyard of the former cloth hall on 25 January 2019. Sculptor David Murphy has been selected from over 40 submissions to create a bold and confident response to the building’s history as a global centre for textiles.
Commissioned in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) and co-funded by the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant programme, The Blanket will be a large-scale floor-based sculpture, positioned at the heart of the 66,000sq ft piazza.  Steel tubes will be used to create a magnified weave, a shallow grid of intercepting and merging lines of subtly curved metal that together create a large ‘picnic blanket’.  Visitors will be encouraged to interact with the 15m x 8m sculpture and enjoy the Grade I listed surroundings.
London-based David Murphy, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art, has previously shown work nationally and internationally, as well as in rural Yorkshire settings including Spear for the Dales Countryside Museum and at YSP. He was motivated to submit a proposal for The Piece Hall as soon as he received the brief.  “It’s not often you see somewhere that combines history, textiles and architecture so perfectly as The Piece Hall”, Murphy comments. “The opportunity to create a new piece of site-specific work inspired by such a unique place is rare. I have spent a large part of my career so far considering the relationship between architecture and textiles, creating work that is heavily influenced by each subject.  This commission brought the two together so clearly, allowing me to delve into the history and details of the building itself.”
The Piece Hall re-opened following an extensive restoration programme in August 2017 and this is the first time that The Piece Hall Trust, the charity set up to run the building, has commissioned an artist to create new work for the courtyard. This investment in a new artwork is just one of the significant plans the Trust has for the future of The Piece Hall designed to attract a national and international market to Halifax and the wider region as a must-visit destination.
Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, adds: “We were really excited to receive over 100 enquiries for this important and new commission funded by Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation, BRP and John S Cohen Foundation. David’s work, shaped by his interest in textiles, seemed like a perfect first collaboration for us.  The Piece Hall has inspired people in so many different ways throughout the centuries and it was important to us that any new work of art reflected the rich historic storytelling of the building’s beginnings in a modern context.”
Accompanying the installation in the courtyard will be a gallery exhibition, co-curated by YSP’s Deputy Curator Damon Waldock, displaying further works from the artist, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and maquettes, alongside working drawings and sketches relating to the commission.  A programme of workshops for schools, adult learning events and community projects will take place throughout the time of the installation, acting as a warm up to Yorkshire Sculpture International, the UK’s largest sculpture festival – presented by the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and YSP – which takes place across the region from 22 June until 29 September 2019.
Damon Waldock, Deputy Curator at YSP, said: “We’re delighted to be working with The Piece Hall to bring a new open-air artwork to their iconic Yorkshire venue, building upon the region’s rich sculptural history. David Murphy is an exciting British sculptor whose new piece captures The Piece Hall’s cultural heritage perfectly in an imaginative and interactive way for new and existing visitors to enjoy.”
Pete Massey, Director North, Arts Council England adds: “The Piece Hall has been a fantastic success since its recent reopening and is a central part of the hugely exciting cultural regeneration of Halifax. I’m delighted that we are supporting its first large scale visual arts commission in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’m looking forward to seeing The Blanket ahead of the Yorkshire Sculpture International festival which I’m sure will encourage even more people to visit the county and experience its incredible cultural offer.”
Grade I Listed, The Piece Hall, Halifax is a rare and precious thing as it is absolutely unique. It is the sole survivor of the great eighteenth century northern cloth halls, a class of buildings which embodied the vital and dominant importance of the trade in hand woven textiles to the pre-industrial economy of the West Riding of Yorkshire, from the Middle Ages through to the early nineteenth century.
Dating from 1779, when it was built as a Cloth Hall for the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth (a 30 yard length of woven woollen fabric produced on a handloom), The Piece Hall was the most ambitious and prestigious of its type and now stands in splendid isolation as the only remaining example. It is one of Britain’s most outstanding Georgian buildings.
Re-opened on 1 August 2017, The Piece Hall is a contemporary leisure, retail, cultural and heritage destination and the beating heart of a world-class cultural quarter. The 66,000 sq ft open air piazza is enclosed by a retail and leisure mix of independent new start-ups, expanding local businesses and returning tenants. thepiecehall.co.uk
The Piece Hall Trust is a charitable organisation created to manage and sustain the future of The Piece Hall following a multi-million-pound transformation.
David Murphy Studied at Glasgow School of Art (2006), HfBK Dresden (2005), and Newcastle College (2001). He is represented by Monica De Cardenas, Milan/Zuoz. He lives and works in London. davidmurphystudio.co.uk

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017. As an independent art gallery, accredited museum and accredited charity (number 1067908), YSP's core work is made possible by investment from Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation and Sakurako and William Fisher through the Sakana Foundation. YSP was named Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2014. ysp.org.uk 

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. artscouncil.org.uk

The Foyle Foundation is an independent grantmaking trust that distributes grants to UK charities. The Foundation does not support applications from individuals.

Since it became operational in November 2001, The Foundation has disbursed £91.5M in grants (up to 31st December 2017). foylefoundation.org.uk

John S Cohen Foundation supports the built and natural environment as well as music, the arts and higher education. Will give grants to charities focusing on heritage and conservation.

High Res Image Downloads


David Murphy, The Blanket (Maquette, detail). Courtesy the artist

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The Piece Hall piazza. Photo Paul White

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David Murphy. Photo © Anne Purkiss

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