Press Release,
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

One of the great strengths of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival is its ability to draw on a wealth of local artistic resources, and at the same time by virtue of its great reputation to command the contributions of nationally and internationally acclaimed figures of the arts scene. Whilst this is abundantly clear from the wealth of performers taking part in this year's programme, nowhere is it more apparent than in two exhibitions which will be running for the whole of the Festival.

Helen Muspratt

The Festival Office, on Albert Street is hosting a show of prints by pioneering woman photographer Helen Muspratt. Helen, whose career spanned from the thirties until virtually the end of the last century, spent her final years in Heptonstall , where her daughter, architect Jessica Sutcliffe, still lives with her family.

The exhibition includes portraits, Welsh mining documentary scenes, and images from a visit to Soviet Russia. In their portrait studio in Oxford in the 1930s, Helen and her colleague Letttice Ramsey were at the forefront of the development of the technique of solarisation, and numbered amongst their sitters Virginia Woolf, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, Vanessa Bell, Paul Nash and Alastair Cooke.

The exhibition is open daily until 7th July, from 10 till 5, and Jessica Sutcliffe will give a talk about her mother on this coming Saturday 14th June at 5.15p.m.

Paula Rego

Paula Rego is a Portugese Artist who was born in Lisbon in 1935. She studied in London at the Slade, and is known chiefly for her large paintings based on stories. Her mysterious and often sinister characters, maybe from fables or novels, act out emotions in a way which can make the stories recognisable as our own.

She enjoys a global reputation as the supreme artist storyteller, whose work at first glance may seem strangely innocent, whist further examination draws the onlooker into an uncomfortable world where women are often the dominant characters. Described by Germaine Greer as a "feminist artist" Rego explained that her work is often filled with revenge : "I can make it so that women are stronger than men in my pictures. I can turn tables and do as I want"

Her exhibition at Linden Mill, on Linden Road comprises a series of 12 etchings on the subject of the Pendle Witches, made to accompany poems on that theme by Blake Morrison, the Skipton-born poet who will discuss this collaboration, and read from his new book Things my mother never told me at the exhibition on Thursday 19th June at 8 p.m. The exhibition is open between 11 and 5, every Wednesday to Sunday from June 18th to July 20th.

The Arts Festival runs from 20th June to 6th July. Some events are already being sold out, and early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment. Full details of all events can be found in the Festival Programme, available from the Tourist Information Centre, various shops, and direct from The Festival Box Office, open from 10 till 5 daily on Albert Street (tel 01422 842684)

HB Arts Festival