Salt’s Mill (or Salts Mill) is an art gallery, shopping and restaurant complex located in Saltaire, Bradford, West Yorkshire. It is inside a former mill, built by Sir Titus Salt a 19th century industrialist.
The 1853 gallery takes its name from the date of the building in which it is housed. Salt’s Mill displays many paintings by local artist David Hockney who was a close friend of Jonathan Silver, the man responsible for renovating the mill. Hockney and Silver had been at Bradford Grammar School together and both shared a passion for the creative arts.
When completed, it was the largest industrial building in the world by total floor area. It is a grade II* listed building. The mill closed in 1986, with renovation beginning the following year. It has subsequently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very popular with visitors from the UK and abroad.
Two years ago I visited the Royal Academy of Art in London to see the David Hockney Exhibition and was stunned by the vibrancy and colour of the paintings, particularly the ones he had done of East Yorkshire at different times of the year. So when I discovered that part of that exhibition was now in situ at Salts Mill I decided a trip was in order.
Seeing some of the paintings again did not diminish the impact of them, in fact at least this time I could get close up to fully appreciate them (In London it had been like a rugby scrum). The centerpiece of the exhibition was “The Arrival of Spring” with Hockney displaying his eye for colour, simplicity of line but also the ability to tell a story through his paintings.
I tried to capture some of the paintings with my DLSR (thank you to Salts Mill for allowing photography, others take note) but the lighting is dimmed to create the right kind of viewing ambience for the visitor, so my attempts are of limited impact and don’t convey the beauty of the paintings as seeing them “in the flesh.”
There is also an excellent Saltaire History exhibition, which is well worth a viewing, as are the bookshop and gift shops. To round off the visit a trip to Salts Diner is recommended as it serves excellent food at reasonable prices and even stocks the Saltaire Blonde Beer.
If you are feeling adventurous (and fit) you can walk along the canal from the mill to the Five Rise Locks at Bingley but I would suggest you allow at least 2.5 hours for the round trip. Alternatively, take a short trip on a barge along the canal.
Another bonus is that there is a huge FREE car park at the back of the mill.
I would strongly recommend a visit to the mill and the Hockney exhibition is a must.