Thriving Yorkshire mill puts art at the heart of its community

The thriving Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, between Leeds and Bradford, has created more space for its flourishing artistic community.

The mill complex has opened 10 new studios in the Twisting Gallery this month, which will complement the existing 14 studios in the Spinning Mill.

Sunny Bank Mills already hosts the popular Sunny Bank Mills Gallery, the acclaimed art, design and culture space housed in a light and tranquil 3,000 sq ft old cloth warehouse.

The spacious art gallery, together with the new and existing studios, showcases local artists and provides a creative space for the Farsley, Pudsey and north Leeds community.

It is the beating artistic heart of the regenerated Sunny Bank Mills, where Yorkshire Television used to film their hit shows Emmerdale and Heartbeat.

The studios and the art gallery will be open to the public as part of the special Heritage Open Days on September 14-15.

William Gaunt, co-managing director of Edwin Woodhouse, the developers of Sunny Bank Mills, commented: “We want to support local artists in Leeds. The overriding aim is that the mill should be an inspiring place for people to come to work – and visit. The new studios in the Twisting Gallery, together with the Spinning Mill and the gallery, achieve this aim.”

Jane Kay, a former Leeds lawyer who manages the gallery and oversees the studios, said this week: “The cultural community at Sunny Bank is thriving and it is fantastic that we can offer more space for local artists and makers to nurture their craft.

“Artists and makers animate spaces; they encourage conversation and provide a unique perspective on our times and environment. Having a gallery space and studios enables us to bring accessible art and culture to both the mill and the local community.

“By widening engagement and increasing the profile of those artists and makers, whom we support, we provide a platform for growth,” she explained.

Nel Whatmore, a leading Yorkshire artist, who has just moved into Sunny Bank Mills, said: “It has been a lifetime’s ambition of mine to have a studio in a mill and to be part of a creative community. Having recently been forced to cancel my biggest show of the year, Chelsea Flower Show, I am delighted to say that I have had the time to explore new opportunities and discover Sunny Bank Mills.

“The combination of an inspiring building and the careful curation of the spaces meant it was a very easy decision to move in to the Twisting Gallery,” she added.

Sarah Chandler, another artist who has just moved into Sunny Bank Mills, said: “From the first moment that I walked into Sunny Bank Mills my mind was active with creative thoughts.

It is such a beautiful building situated in a beautiful village.


“I have only recently moved to Farsley but it already feels like home. It is a very special place full of warm friendly people. I love the sense of community here. I am honoured to have been accepted into the new studios. I can’t wait to get started.”


William Gaunt commented: “Sunny Bank was always a place of makers, for 180 years the mill produced collection after collection to meet the demands of fashion both at home and abroad. The skills of the mill workers, honed over generations, combined to produce some of the finest cloths in the world.

“The cultural activities at Sunny Bank Mills have, without doubt, enhanced our offer. The mill has a steady stream of visitors who go out and promote the Sunny Bank story. The whole community has been lifted by the regeneration, and Farsley is now a desirable place to live with one of the fastest moving property markets in Leeds,” he added.