Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fabric's Hand Made in Bradford

A few years ago while reading the local paper, I noticed an article about Fabric's  plans to open a pop up shop at 11 Tyrrel Street, a building which forms part of the original famous department store Brown Muff opened by Elizabeth Brown in 1814. 
In its heyday Brown Muff's was loved by locals and visitors alike as the place to go for everything from carpets and kitchens to beauty makeovers and funerals! At the height of its glory, Brown Muffs built a large glass advertisement case in the new Forster Square station to show off its glamorous and expensive outfits for the well to do woman about town. In those days Brown Muffs was known as the "Harrod's of the North".

Brown Muff lasted until 1970 when it was taken over by Rackham's which in turn lasted another 18 years until 1986. Since then the building has been divided into smaller units which currently house Caffe Nero and Boots, among others. The unit which had previously housed Virgin Megastore, followed by Zavvi, was leased to Fabric on a 'pop up' basis.

The fabulous location and the prospect of being involved in an arts charity's interesting new venture got my interest. Coincidentally I ran into an old friend who knew more about it and put me in touch with Fabric's director, Gideon Seymour. An inspiring open evening on site was what I needed to 'sign up'. 

Soon after that, Fabric's volunteers got stuck in painting walls, building counters and assembling shelves and Fabric's Creative Programme Manager Ann Rutherford (now at East Street Arts) began marketing the shop to local artists and makers. A name was decided and more volunteers delivered the branding. Hand Made in Bradford was up and running.

As well as displaying and selling the work of local artists and makers in the main shop, we used the huge space on the first floor for a wide variety of exhibitions and events. Part of this area was sectioned off for a collaborative project with Age UK, called the Picnic Parlour, run by Sarah Cartin. There was also a Children's Gallery curated by Lynne Dobson, a space set aside for emerging and amateur artists called the People's Gallery, and a tiny film studio.

Hand Made in Bradford moved from Tyrrel Street to Market Street where it ran until February 2015. It has now been incorporated into The Handmade Alternative by owners Jane Wynn & Steve Lewsley  and reopened at 49 Godwin Street .

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