The Piece Hall in Halifax (England) is an astonishing reminder of the time when much the wealth of the towns and cities in the area came from the woollen industry building. Such was the town’s importance that its name was used for its sister town in Massachusetts, USA, founded in the 17th century. Opened in 1779, the four wings of the Piece Hall surround an open courtyard, with 315 separate rooms built as a cloth hall for handloom weavers to sell pieces of their woollen cloth, hence its name. The cost of the building at the time was £12,000, excellent value as it is equates to around £1 million today.
The recent restoration and redevelopment has retained the essence of this magnificent building to create a centre for arts, with a new theatre, specialist shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes, and occasional events being held in the great central courtyard.
In one corner of the courtyard, children leap in and out of a metal structure, ‘The Blanket’, a new sculptural commission by David Murphy which links back to the weaving heritage of the building, an initiative supported by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Arts Council England, the Foyle Foundation and the John S Cohen Foundation.
An excellent initiative, with the exhibition in the Gallery providing more detail of the development of the sculpture and other artworks by Murphy relating to the theme.