Haarlem Art Workspace opens in iconic Wirksworth Mill

Haarlem Workspace has opened in the iconic mill in Wirksworth bringing gallery and studio space for artists and creatives to the Derbyshire town. Following the official opening at the end of July the space is now looking forward to a full programme of events including across the opening weekend of the Wirksworth Festival on 9 and 10 September 2017.

Said to have been the inspiration behind Thomas Hardy‘s Mill On The Floss Haarlem was the first significant coal-powered mill of the industrial revolution having been built by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1780. Beyond Hardy the mill has featured in literary works by George Elliot, Friedrich Engles, DH Lawrence, and Daniel Defoe among others.

And from this significant industrial history and notable literary mentions the mill once again finds itself at the cutting edge of transformation and creativity as it becomes an open gallery, home for artists and creatives with studio space, and supports rural communities with co-working spaces. It fits perfectly within Wirksworth which is becoming established as a centre for contemporary arts.

One of the space’s four directors and non-profit finance specialist, Anna Clyne told the Matlock Mercury, “Wirksworth has a thriving creative and artistic community, we want to renew its place on the map.”

Funded by a Kickstarter as well as support from Sheffield Hallam University and Community Foundation the mill is already home to 12 artists with plans to renovate more of the space and expand in the future. Following the July opening their are now looking toward their first major exhibition, Internal Nebular, which will open on 1 September to coincide with the town’s month-long arts festival.

Curated by Olivia Punnett, another of the mill’s directors, Internal Nebula looks at the geology and history of stone as well as the history of the characteristic which forms such an important part of Derbyshire’s landscape and character. Part of an ambitious programme running until February 2018 the exhibition will open with a private view on 1 September and then be open throughout the festival weekend of 9 and 10 September on the second floor of the mill. Having received Arts Council Funding Internal Nebula will also consist of a series of talks, two of which fall within the festival.

Of her involvement in the renovation and running of Haarlem Punnett told the Matlock Mercury she was inspired having been exhibited around the world but having limited opportunity in her home town. She said, “Artists working rurally are often working alone or, as we were doing, travelling into city centre studios to be part of the contemporary working arts. So many artists were having to do this, and we felt it was time for a change.”

Running for more than 20 years Wirksworth Festival is one of the leading rural arts festivals in the UK and during the Art and Architecture Trail weekend at the start of September more than 70 venues will exhibit art to turn the whole town into a gallery. Homes, gardens, shops and churches will be among those opening their doors on 9 and 10 September as part of the trail.

The Wirksworth Festival takes place from 8 to 24 September 2017 – more information on the festival website.

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