Piece Hall column: The Night Market illuminates the north wall

The Night Market, photo by David Lindsay
The Night Market, photo by David Lindsay

One of the most eagerly anticipated regeneration projects ever to take place in Halifax, The Piece Hall will reopen to the public in 2017.

In the months running up to the big reveal this regular column will give updates and news about what’s going on behind the scenes.

As the construction teams keep busy within the walls of the iconic venue, the team who will take over the running of The Piece Hall from next year have commissioned a temporary art installation - a small taster of the magical spectacles in store once the transformation is complete.

The Night Market is a stunning light installation on the external north wall of The Piece Hall and launched as part of last weekend’s Spirit of Halifax Festival, when the town’s Christmas lights were switched on. To celebrate its arrival there were free lantern making workshops and an exhibition of sculpture from Brooksbank School across the opening day.

The enchanting illumination is a tale of curious characters and a parallel universe.

As daylight fades and moonlight takes its place, the frayed fabric of the universe gives way and The Night Market comes alive. An enchanted trading place, they come to buy and they come to sell. They trade exotic spices and magical potions, charms and trinkets, rugs made of thread spun from light itself and technology yet to be imagined.

There’s still opportunity to see the installation, which is lit from dusk until 9pm daily to this Sunday, 4 December.

Molly Rigg, Head of Events for The Piece Hall Trust commented: “We were really keen to be involved in Halifax Christmas celebrations this year and decided that the north wall would make a perfect canvas for showcasing art. The concept for The Night Market evolved from discussions with artists Chris Mould and Matt Howarth who developed a narrative around the Piece Hall as a site for trade and exchange, where imagined creatures and characters could come to life and animate a usually overlook space for the festive season.”

Created by acclaimed locally based artists, Illustrator Chris Mould, from Bradford and Matt Howarth, Animator & Artist in Residence at Dean Clough Galleries. The Night Market is the culmination of a project developed between the artists and The Piece Hall Trust, inspired by the fascinating 237-year history of the Grade I listed building.

Molly continues “Working in partnership with local artists is really important to us and something we fully intend to do more of in the future when The Piece Hall opens.”

Built by the merchants and manufacturers of Halifax The Piece Hall started life as a cloth hall in 1779. Its scale underlines the great importance of wool and the wool trade to Halifax and the nation before the industrialisation of the 1800s. At this time, other towns had cloth halls, but The Piece Hall - with its 315 rooms, classical colonnades and great courtyard - was the most prestigious.

This original purpose declined with industrialisation and by 1815 the building was being used as a venue for political meetings and public spectaculars. Novelties such as balloon flights, tightrope walks and firework displays lit by specially trained pigeons wowed spectators – a rich tapestry of people and performance that inspired those brought to life in The Night Market illustrations.

The Night Market was made possible and funded by Art Council England’s Cultural Destinations programme.

The Piece Hall Trust would like to acknowledge the contribution of the following companies: CJS Halifax, Sound and Light UK, Lumen Arts, Stohers Building Engineering Services, GRAHAM Construction and Calderdale Council

For more information about The Piece Hall visit thepiecehall.co.uk