20 years of Sally Lees London Contemporary Jewellery - The beginning

Posted by Sally Lees on

I began my business in 1998 in Bradford, West Yorkshire where I had studied my BA (Hons) Art & Design Degree at Bradford College. The Princes Trust awarded me a grant and loan to buy the equipment for my business and I hired a space in Quebec Street Studios.
Quebec Street Studios was run by artists and crafts people in an almost derelict mill building in Bradford city centre. At the time Bradford had a vibrant arts and music scene and was full of independent cafes and studios.
The Bradford Mela was a great place to do workshops with the local kids and was packed full of art, sculpture, dance and performances. One of the Quebec Street artists, Frank Darnley, was a metal worker and was well known for making sculptures and crazy large metal floats out of old cars and he'd squeeze himself into the driving seat and drive around Bradford street to the Mela festival.  Textile artist and illustrator  Morwenna Catt and stained glass artist Sam Finning Glass were also resident at the studios at that time.
The studio was freezing in winter and not much warmer in summer but was incredibly cheap to rent. Eventually Bradford Council decided to go ahead with the regeneration plans for the city and we had to move to Woolston House, a massive mill spanning a whole block. You had to practically climb up a hill to get there. There was a hand rail to help you get up one of the nearby streets as it was so steep!
The studio at Woolston House wasn't any warmer than Quebec street but it as almost as cheap to rent. The building was occupied by lots of micro businesses and on the ground floor there was a cafe and art gallery. We only rented part of the top floor and I built my own bench with my new jigsaw and painted it canary yellow. There were spectacular views of the city from the studios. However, the building was also partly derelict and the room next to us was unoccupied. Therefore we hadn't noticed the large hole in the ceiling where the sky light shoud've been....until it snowed
When I moved to Cockpit Arts in London in July 2000 I couldn't belive my luck. The room was cold but nothing compared to Woolston House in Bradford plus there were absolutely no holes in the roof!
Whilst writing this blog I discovered that through the regeneration of Bradford city centre that both Quebec Street Studios and Woolston House buildings have been turned into apartments.
 Read my previous blog about my time at Cockpit Arts in London.

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