Andy Burnham met artist and Art House studio member Helaina Sharpley at the opening. Courtesy The Art House
The Art House, an innovative and fully accessible centre for visual artists, was formally opened by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham on Monday 7 July 2008. The opening of the £3 million building in Wakefield realises a 14-year vision to provide inclusive workspace for professional artists.
The Art House supports the practice of professional artists - both with and without disabilities - with its combination of spacious studios and technician support as well as the provision of workspace and accommodation for short-term residencies. The space has already attracted artists from all over the uk and abroad.
A long term studio space currently in use, courtesy the Art House
Liz Whitehouse, Director of The Art House, says: "The Art House began with the vision of one disabled artist and it has taken 14 years of dedicated hard work to make that vision a reality."
"We are delighted Andy Burnham is opening our new building, where we already have a community of artists - both disabled and non-disabled - working side by side. The accessible accommodation provided within the building means that artists from across the UK and the world can use this unique facility."
Exterior view of the £3million building, courtesy the Art House
The Art House was established in 1994 as a result of frustrations encountered by artist and sculptor Patricia Sutcliffe. Patricia has severe arthritis, and after receiving inadequate support through her Bachelor of Art degree found that it was impossible to find adequate workspaces in which to work alongside artists without disabilities. The Art House aims to support artists like Patricia Sutcliffe in an all-inclusive environment.
Andy Carver, Executive Director of Arts Council England, Yorkshire, adds:"We are excited to be a major investor in The Art House. Their new base is ground-breaking in the access and support it offers visual artists. It means that disabled artists will be able to create new work alongside their non-disabled peers as part of a creative network of artists."
"The opening of The Art House will also enhance Wakefield's growing reputation as a centre for the visual arts. Our £1.4 million investment, through the National Lottery, has led to a nationally unique asset for Yorkshire."
The helping band - an embossed burnt-oak handrail that runs round the whole building. Courtesy, the Art House
As well as being a place to make art, The Art House is a national membership organisation with a catalogue of major projects, including its current residency project Space for 10, working with high-profile galleries including Kettles Yard, Arnolfini and Spike Island, and Northern Gallery For Contemporary Arts.
The completion of The Art House was made possible with substantial funding from the lottery through Arts Council England, as well as ERDF, Yorkshire Forward and Wakefield Council.