There is a season, turn, turn, turn

Autumn’s here and it’s back to school, back to work and back to blogging! (Please pardon our hiatus over the summer. dear reader – absence of posts has not meant absence of Friends’ activity, which has continued as energetically as ever – more of which in future posts.)

Alison hard at work, planning for the Friends

And to everything there is a season. In August, the Friends turned two years old and held its Annual General Meeting at Haworth Art Gallery. It was a momentous meeting, as our brilliant Chair, Alison Phelan, stepped down after a stellar two years of service. Alison has been a driving force since the Friends’ inception, co-founding the group, along with fellow Trustees, Harry Emmett, Jean Emmett and Roger Cunliffe and other dedicated members. Alison’s hard work, enthusiasm and tenacity are always accompanied by a friendly smile and she has been a great galvaniser of all the Friends projects. The Friends all agree that we have been very lucky to have been steered by her calm good sense for the past two years and have made truly remarkable progress in that time. Thank you, Alison!

Alison and Harry, appropriately bookending a group of Hollins young photographers at their exhibition at the gallery last year

The good news is that the inimitable Harry Emmett takes up the reins and will be spearheading the Friends’ efforts for the next two years (while Harry may himself be inimitable, he gives both uncanny Santa and Elvis performances – to name but two – and like those icons can be recognised by just the one name)! As a founding Trustee, Harry has been central to the Friends’ progress in every aspect, and works tirelessly in leading and supporting the group’s many projects. Harry’s involvement with the Haworth reaches back many years, as an interested Friend and neighbour, and as a key member of the Accrington Camera Club. Congratulations to Harry – we welcome his zest and zeal for the work of the Friends and look forward to working with him in his new role! Please watch this space for more on our continuing and future projects.

In further good news, Alison remains on board as General Secretary and Treasurer, while fellow founding Trustee and relentless researcher, the unrivalled Jean Emmett, also takes up the role of Minutes Secretary. We’re in excellent hands!

If you’d like to play a role – large or small – in the Friends, or even just to join us for the social side of this lovely group, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

haworthaccrington@gmail.com

 

 

Raising the Roof to Raise Funds!

Diner-style delights. No Amercian Graffiti on these walls please!

Friends and family rocked around the clock at a fifties fun night Saturday to raise funds for a good cause. The Friends of Haworth Art Gallery joined forces with the Gallery Kitchen and Haworth staff to raise an impressive £800 towards a defibrillator for Haworth Art Gallery and grounds.

Nice duds dudes!

 

The fun kicked off with raspberry cocktails to complement the American diner delicacies, and guests geared up to an evening of fifties festivities with a charity auction and raffle. Generous gifts of paintings by Haworth Stable Block artists Heather Ashton, Catherine Lansdale and Steve Crowther, and a team shirt signed by Accrington Stanley players were just some of the brilliant buys on the block.

 

Roll over Beethoven, Elvis and Buddy Holly..

Guests got into the swing in some great 1950’s era gear to bring the rock ‘n’ roll vibe alive. DJ Michael Sixsmith and his partner Kyla Louise got the party started with their dance demos and some lightning lessons in jive and twist. The mood was buoyant as people found their stride and stepped up to the beat. Even the air guitar was period perfection!

 

Could Bill Haley have matched this performance with one Comet?

Sales and donations were off the charts and the total raised was a real shot in the arm for the target amount. An enormous ‘Thank you!’ to Accrington Stanley for their superb support, to our generous artists and all our kind donors, bidders, guests and everyone who helped to make the evening such a huge success, not least the Haworth and Gallery Kitchen staff.

Here’s to the next one!

 

 

 

Get your Grease on!

Fascinated by the fifties? Always find your feet tapping to a jumpin’ jive? Fancy learning a few steps to make those moves sing with the swing? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, make sure to grab your tickets NOW for the Friends’ Fifties Diner & Rock ‘n’ Roll night. A real throwback to the days of diners, drive-ins, juke boxes and soda fountains, our fifties night will make your heart beat to the sweet sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. You’ll be going ape on the floor before you can say: ‘Let’s go, Daddy-O!’

Kicking off with a cocktail, you’ll have an evening filled with fifties favourites and served up with a delicious two-course dinner from the Gallery Kitchen. If the dance steps are new to you, there’s a primer to get you started and fistfuls of floor-fillers to put your moves into practice. There’s even a dance-off for any Sandy or Danny wannabes! What a blast, baby!

Organised jointly by the Friends and Management of the Haworth and the Gallery Kitchen, this fabulous fun-fest is held in aid of the Haworth’s defibrillator fund, which will be a valuable resource for visitors to the park and gallery. Tickets are £25 a head; doors open at 7pm, Saturday, March 23rd.

So peel a wheel and punch it straight to the door for your trip to the floor – the bash in Bash’ll be peachy keen!

A Tiffany Epiphany

The Haworth in snow and sun; a warm welcome on a frosty day

A (literally) brilliant benefit of being a Friend of Haworth Art Gallery: days like today when we had the privilege of Curator Gillian Berry’s insights on the Gallery’s exquisite Tiffany glass collection – and an exclusive opportunity to handle several Tiffany pieces under the strict supervision of the Haworth’s Alison Iddon. All in the sparkling winter sun of a late January day liberally dusted by frost and snow.

Curator Gillian Berry highlights some of the Haworth’s Tiffany pieces, including a vase (centre) by Joseph Briggs

Gillian brought to life the story of Tiffany Studios, its personalities, and – crucially – the exquisite glass for which it became world-famous. Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the famed jeweller Charles Tiffany, was the Studios’ founder, whose artistic vision, family wealth and marketing genius were at the core of the creative powerhouse the Studios would become. After many successful decades in business, Tiffany handed control of the Studios to Joseph Briggs, the Accrington-born engraver, who had worked his way to the top of the ladder through the roles of errand boy,  mosaic maker and studio foreman for Tiffany. Joseph would later bequeath to his hometown its world-renowned glass collection.

Elegant example of Millefiori glass encased in an opalescent Paperweight vase

Joseph was an accomplished mosaic craftsman, but only recently has his critical contribution to the artistic direction of the company become more fully appreciated – and the extent of his role in creating the myriad mosaics that were a major part of the Studios’ output; as foreman, he worked alongside other such formidable talents as designer Clara Driscoll (see earlier posts on Joseph and Clara). For this reason, the Haworth’s collection has been redisplayed to reflect his prominence and will continue to be adapted to respect the role he played.

Flower-form vase (convolvulus) illustrates opalescent, opaque and striated glass, with colour layered inside the delicate flower head and translucent stem.

 

A third generation engraver, Joseph was an apprentice at Steiner & Co in Accrington, where his father also worked, before leaving to seek his fortune in the States at the age of 17. Steiner, an immensely successful calico printing firm, proved to be a good training ground for Joseph; it was here that he honed his skills, engraving wooden printing blocks for the acres of Art Nouveau patterned fabrics the company sold to customers worldwide. In a wonderful piece of circularity, Joseph had initially trained at the Accrington Mechanics’ Institute, of which William Haworth (whose home, Hollins Hill, would later become Haworth Art Gallery) was a patron, and his father before him a founding member.

Agate glass, dated 1904, is said to emulate Art Deco, which supplanted Art Nouveau in public tastes, albeit much later

The dynamism of Briggs’ and Tiffany’s collaboration was astonishing and the company’s output immense. At its height, the Studios employed 540 people, many of whom were artists: designers, glass blowers, glass cutters and mosaic artists, as well as chemists. Notable among the latter, Tiffany employed Parker McIlhenny, who perfected the technique for iridescent glass that is a feature of much of Tiffany’s output. Arthur Nash, an English chemist, managed Tiffany Furnaces and was critical in helping Tiffany create the extraordinary array of colours and effects, for which the Studios became renowned, by the application of different oxides. Among their accomplishments was the ability to create degrees and styles of opalescence and translucency that could even mimic folding fabric.  Often used for windows and mosaic panels, pieces were cut from large sheets of glass, production of which Tiffany brought in-house under Nash. Many such sheets remain in the vast Neustadt Collection of Tiffany objects in Queens, New York.

Jewel-like example of blue Cameo glass with characteristic matte lustre

Design and experimentation in glass colours and finishes brought vibrancy to an astonishing range of vases, lamps, mosaics and windows. Iridescence became a trademark feature of various different forms of Tiffany vase, including Lava glass forms with their molten appearance (see examples pictured below). It was also sometimes used in combination with Millefiori technique, where rods of molten glass were fused to a glass form and layered over with a paper-thin sheath of transparent glass to ensure a smooth outer surface. Examples made in this way became known as Paperweight vases. Opalescent glass was also used with this technique, as seen in the elegant example above. A similar combination of techniques for decorating glass, by layering from the inside out, was used for other rare and complex pieces, such as the lifelike Aquamarine vase in the Haworth collection – one of only three known still to be in existence. 

Very rare Aquamarine vase

Slightly more restrained effects were created by carving opalescent glass into Cameo glass, which has a matte lustre (see the lovely blue example above). Cypriote and Byzantine styles both hark back to classical times, albeit in very different ways; Cypriote vases present a largely matte, pitted exterior, mimicking ancient amphora, while Byzantine ware is highly lustrous and formal in style. Opalescent glass also featured in many Tiffany mosaics and windows in opaque, semi-opaque and translucent forms. The breathtaking mosaic of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos pictured above – a key element of the Haworth’s collection that is often sought for loan by museums internationally –  illustrates many of the impressive range of effects and colours Tiffany managed to achieve. 

Lava glass vases (right) drip opulently in apparently molten gold, while a large example of a Cypriote vase (left) gleams more subtly; the classically shaped iridescent pieces are characteristic of Byzantine style

Great marketer and entrepreneur that he was, Tiffany adopted and trademarked the term ‘favrile’, a derivation of the old English word ‘fabrile’, meaning hand-wrought, to describe the hand-crafted nature of the company’s creations. Although an accomplished artist himself (Tiffany moved from painting to the medium of glass because of its ability to bounce light around) it is unlikely – ironically – that Louis Comfort Tiffany personally created any of the pieces for which his company became world-famous. Notwithstanding, he was the mastermind behind the company, and thanks to him – and critically to Joseph Briggs – we have this stunning collection on permanent display in sunny Accrington!

The Friends would like to thank the gallery staff for the unique opportunity of this lovely event. Next time you visit the Haworth, be sure to take time to appreciate the delicate beauty and amazing variety of this precious bequest.

If you’d like to join the Friends and take part in future activities, please contact us via haworthaccrington@gmail.com 

 

 

Upstairs, Downstairs, Hither and Yon: Haworth History and Heritage Talk

A friendly crowd, ready to be regaled; watched over by William Haworth

A fun, friendly and informative time was had by visitors to the Haworth at the Friends’ latest history and heritage event Sunday. Below Stairs and Beyond the Park served up a fresh look at the lives of the people who worked for the Haworth family and the world they inhabited at the turn of the last century in Hollins Hill, as it then was. Keen local historians and Friends founder members Jean Emmett and Roger Cunliffe engaged the audience in a fascinating social history of the Haworths’ era, and the industrial heritage of the local area – with a few props to boot!

Abraham Naboth Imlah Whiston, Haworth valet-cum-curator

Firstly, Jean uncovered the lives of staff who worked at Hollins Hill in its days as a private house. Key among these were coachman, William Beech, chauffeur, Joseph Taylor and valet, Abraham Naboth Imlah Whiston, who later became the gallery’s first curator. Jean also offered a glimpse into the life of Anne Haworth’s elegant companion, Ellen Priestley. Perhaps surprisingly, none of these family retainers was born in the immediate area: William hailed from Shropshire, Joseph from Manchester and Abraham from Cheshire, while Ellen was born in Russia. Jean helped to bring their personalities to life with colourful details of each one. An appeal to the many local people at the event elicited information about a previously unidentified gardener, which will help the Friends trace further details of his life.

Taylor in the Rolls Royce Double Landaulette

Roger then shared his history of Baxenden, where the Haworth is located, detailing its numerous quirky name changes since first being recorded as Bastanedenecloch in the 1100’s and now often abbreviated, quite punchily (ahem), to Bash – so much simpler. Roger shared his fascinating insights into the various types of transport systems that have passed below the park on which Hollins Hill was built: from the construction of the road by Blind Jack o’ Knaresborough in the 1700s, to the old coaching routes established in the 1800’s (see earlier posts for more on these); from the steam trams which would have climbed the hill in the Haworths’ day, to the corporation buses that became the norm in the 1930s (more to come on these). Roger illustrated these changes with models of the trams in use from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and a model of an old Accrington Corporation bus in its proud livery of navy and scarlet, the historic colours of the Accrington Pals.

Accrington Corporation bus in the Pals’ livery, on Peel Street, alongside the Market Hall

The audience also heard about the old industrial buildings along the route of the former railway line from Accrington through Baxenden towards Manchester: the now demolished mills and the long-defunct Baxenden brickworks, in operation for just a few short  years and outshone, of course, by its more famous neighbour. Such is Roger’s enthusiasm for his subject, however, he proudly professes to building a small collection of rare Bash bricks!

After the presentations, audience members browsed through the fascinating documents, books, photographs, maps and charts that illustrated their subjects. Thank you to our wonderful speakers and to our lovely visitors for both their participation and for their kind donations to the Friends’ funds. Our next public event will be the children’s Fun Palace project held at Accrington Library on October 6th. Stay posted for more details.

Early Vintage

In August, the Friends marked a bustling inaugural year with our first AGM, kindly hosted at the Haworth by Gallery Manager Yvonne Robbins. Friends’ Chair Alison Phelan was able to report  a very strong first year, in particular the excellent research projects that have helped bring to life the stories of the Haworth family and their retainers, as well as the history and heritage of the surrounding area of Baxenden.

The Friends have made huge strides in researching and archiving the history of the house, and park and its personnel
The Friends have enjoyed a successful year of fundraising events and member drives in addition to our tremendous heritage events. Trustees, Roger Cunliffe, Jean Emmett and Harry Emmett, have been especially active,  bringing their brilliant insights and research to bear in the Haworth’s archives and presenting their findings so entertainingly in these  events. A number of our members have also donated generously of their time, effort and electrical appliances in supporting our efforts : ) Amazing art works too! And our hardworking Chair has kept all the group’s activities on track with grace and good humour.

 

Proud parents see Haworth Through the Lens

Other local community projects have included the wonderfully inspiring collaboration, Haworth Through the Lens,  with The Hollins’ CTC initiative, an association we hope to pursue with future projects. Similarly, we look forward to working further with the extensive photographic archive so painstakingly created by talented Blackburn College photography degree student Peter Graham.

Friends indeed!

Forthcoming Friends events at the Haworth will include a heritage afternoon, Below Stairs and Beyond the Park, on September 23rd and a Tombola and Member Drive on December 16th. The Friends will also offer Tiffany-related crafting at Accrington Library as part of a national  Fun Palace event for children on October 6th. More details of all these events to follow. Get those diaries out!

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a slight name change to Friends of Haworth Art Gallery. The shift from Friends of Haworth Art Gallery defers to the widespread use of the ‘gallery’ epithet and we hope will help us to be more identifiable.

The Friends were founded to help promote the cultural heritage of the house and park, the Art Gallery and the Tiffany collection in particular and to emphasise the significance of these in the broader cultural landscape. We are also delighted to help promote the activities of other aspects of the Haworth complex, including the Stable Block and Motor House and the Haworth Artists’ Network, which have all leapt out of the starting block since their own recent launches.

Stable Block and Motor House with Artists’ Studios and Art Garden

Thanks to management at Haworth Art Gallery for their encouragement and support throughout the year and to the staff and volunteers, as well as the management and staff of the Gallery Kitchen, who often generously lend their support.

If you’re interested in arts and culture or have a passion for local history and heritage and are curious about what we do, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Be it a casual interest in attending one of our events or a desire to get involved as a member, we’d love to hear from you. We’re a friendly and dedicated group and can offer opportunities for involvement in any number of ways. However great or small your interest, you can reach us at HaworthAccrington@gmail.com. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HaworthAcc.

 

Wednesday World Cup Window! Baxenden Heritage and Social Evening

Football image courtesy of Freepik

It’s a footie-free Wednesday window this week and The Friends of the Haworth are diving into the area to host our first local heritage and social evening. Join us at the Baxenden Village Club, (formerly the Conservative Club) on Manchester Road this Wednesday, 4th July at 7pm for an evening of culture, conversation and a coffee or two.

It’s set to be an interesting, relaxed and sociable evening with two speakers from our group sharing their fascinating research into the lives of those who lived at Hollins Hill and of the history of Baxenden and the surrounding area.

The event is free for anyone who would like to attend and we’ll even throw in a cuppa (but not through the window)!  Hope to see you there.

And, oh, yeah: come on, England!

Bids and buyers heat up in Sunday sunshine

A gorgeous sunny day and a warm welcome greeted new Friends and auction bidders on Sunday. The whole of Haworth Art Gallery, the Stable Block and gardens were abuzz with visitors to the Craft Fair and Open Day. All with beautiful buys aplenty.

Sunny smiles all round from auction bidders and potential new members at the Friends’ welcome desk

The wonderful turnout yielded great interest in new membership at the Friends welcome desk. We all look forward to welcoming our many newcomers to the fold.

Enormous thanks also go to donors and buyers of items in our auction, which raised a superb £200 for member research and activities. Thank you!

The winning bidders have been contacted  individually and all items are available for collection during normal gallery hours.

If you weren’t able to make it on Sunday, but are interested in joining the Friends – whether to help with organisation or just to come along to the occasional meeting – please feel free to contact us at haworthaccrington@gmail.com. A warm welcome always awaits!

Join us this weekend – and bag a buy!

How would you like to help history come to life? By joining the Friends of the Haworth, you can get involved in bringing alive this historic gem for today’s visitors. And take home your own gem from our blind auction!

Haworth Art Gallery and gardens: the area’s loveliest example of Arts & Crafts architecture

If you’re interested in joining, or just in finding out what the group is all about, the Friends will have a welcome desk at the Haworth’s May 13th Craft Fair and will be on hand to answer your questions. Whether you would like to be a key member, involved in running and organising activities, or just to join a friendly group with similar cultural interests – even simply to attend the occasional event – all are welcome. 

Friends will be on hand to meet and greet – and take your auction bids!
The Friends are also hosting a blind auction of brilliant buys to support their programme of activities. Items are available to view at the Haworth in advance of the auction. Come and have a peek!

 

Our friendly bunch of enthusiasts are engaged in researching and promoting the Haworth’s beautiful building, which began life as Hollins Hill, home to mill owners William and Anne Haworth. The group is particularly involved in researching the history of the house, the family and its retainers, including chauffeur, Joseph Taylor, who presided over the Haworths’ precious motor and its recently refurbished – and extremely rare – motor house, now a part of the wonderful Stable Block development featuring local artists and craftspeople. The neighbouring Art Garden offers numerous fun art projects.

The Haworth Stable Block and Motor House, home to local artists and craftspeople; and the lovely Art Garden

The group also supports community engagement with the Haworth and the range of activities it offers. The Friends foster promotion of the Haworth’s beautiful collections and many wonderful exhibits, while also developing its own activities. Recent projects include the amazing Hollins School Photography Exhibit, available to view for its final few weeks in the Haworth Education Room. The group enjoys supporting local cultural events and visiting centres of cultural interest in the region. 

Make sure of securing the most prized auction purchases by arriving early. Doors open from 12 noon to 4.15pm. You can of course contact the Friends by emailing haworthaccrington@gmail.com or visit haworthartgallery.org..

Friends attend Talbot Conference showcasing major photographic archive

Friends were offered a fascinating glimpse into 20th century Lancashire working life and culture at a February conference highlighting exhibits from a major photographic archive. The inaugural Talbot Conference showcased the extensive works of Blackburn-based photographers Wally Talbot and his son Howard, whose commercial photography was widely commissioned by regional and national news media from the 1930s to the 1990s, creating a vivid documentary of local life and social history of the period.

The archive ranges in subject from industrial life in the early part of the century and bucolic scenes of the Lancashire countryside to major news and events of the times, including visiting music stars and celebrities. It is the subject of a major digitisation project in collaboration with Blackburn`College. Peter Graham, a student in the Photographic Media Degree Programme at Blackburn and a key contributor to this project, is also undertaking a ‘live brief’ photography project at Haworth Art Gallery as part of his curriculum.  Stay posted for more about Peter’s work on the Friends’ blog.

The inaugural Talbot Conference covered a range of subjects including the social, political, historical and technical contexts of the archive and provided an excellent opportunity to view this eclectic mix of images, some of which have never previously been published. To see these images and read more about the Wally & Howard Talbot Collection, visit  www.cottontown.org

A meaningful insight into local history and culture and a very welcome introduction to this amazing archive which more than merits a visit. A big thank you to Peter for the invites to the conference for our group!

Alison