Huge 'picnic blanket' sculpture to be created on the Piece Hall courtyard

Sculptor David Murphy
Sculptor David Murphy

The first visual arts commission from The Piece Hall Trust will be unveiled in the iconic courtyard of the former cloth hall at the start of next year.

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.

He said he was motivated to submit a proposal for the Halifax landmark attraction 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.”

“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.”

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 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.

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.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, said: “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.”