Memoria (2015) David Bridges

Memoria (2015) David Bridges

National arts programme continues with David Bridges at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills

By New Expressions

29 July 2015

Artist David Bridges' Memoria features a series of lit porcelain sculptures and takes its inspiration from the stories of people who worked in Armley Mills when it was a working mill.

The Granddaughter of the mill’s last owner will travel from New Zealand to see the exhibition, as part of a project which has helped to form a new archive at the museum.

The exhibition marks another ‘live’ project during New Expressions 3. New Opportunities Award beneficiary Bridges has created four sculptures which will be exhibited in unlit, unusual areas of the mill, including places that have previously never been seen by the visiting public.

Memoria runs from 1 August – 4 October 2015 and a number of participatory events and activities will be wrapped around the exhibition.

Speaking about Memoria, artist David Bridges said: “After a chance recommendation I visited Leeds Industrial Museum. Days walking around with a camera and a notebook followed. I wondered about the people who worked here, and that became such a powerful draw that everything since has radiated out from that. The project has widened out to include many more people, including the wonderful museum volunteers and the students and staff of Bradford College. The project has reached out to families of people who worked at the mill and this has helped create an archive for Armley Mills. I’m delighted Memoria has unlocked so many previously unheard stories of the mill and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank New Expressions and Leeds Museums and Galleries for all their support.”

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for economy and culture, said: “This exhibition, as part of the national programme New Expressions, is a very moving and powerful concept- using art and light to unlock some of the untold stories behind our city’s fascinating industrial heritage. As we look ahead to our bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2023, it’s important that as part of that, we recognise and pay tribute to our past and the people who helped lay the foundations of the great city we live in today. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished exhibition and I’m sure it will really strike a chord with the people of Leeds.”

Volunteers were recruited as part of the Memoria project. They helped trace and track workers from Armley Mills locally who were contacted and asked to share their memories. These meetings and conversations with Bridges inspired Memoria and its illuminated porcelain light sculptures titled Waves, Aerial, Wing and Gleam.

David contacted Lis Tempest, the Granddaughter of Ernest Tempest (of Bentley and Tempest, the business who last owned the mill).  Lis Tempest has since donated a new archive of previously unseen photographs, reports, logs and bills belonging to Bentley and Tempest to Leeds Industrial Museum, which will be on display during the exhibition. Lis has been in New Zealand since 1982 and will travel back to Leeds and the museum for the opening of Memoria.

Through his links with Bradford College, Bridges also encouraged students to visit the museum and learn about his practices. Students have produced work inspired by these visits. The works will be displayed in the MillSpace Gallery at Leeds Industrial Museum during the exhibition. Furthermore, Bradford College tutors, artists and other cultural practitioners have collaborated on a publication exploring themes relating to the exhibition, the museum site and its local history.  The publication will be available for purchase at Leeds Museums and Galleries from August 2015.