A Festive Message

From our CEO, Sydney Thornbury

Hello All,

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… because of Omicron.

With so many of us feeling a bit of déjà vu, like we’ve ended the year right back where we started, I thought it might be worth sharing a little uplifting note before signing off for the holiday.

No matter how dark it has been recently – metaphorically and literally – I have to say that The Art House community always manages to bring some light into my life and help me appreciate the power of being part of a caring, creative community.

So, I thought I’d share a few of my most recent light-filled Art House moments. I’d love to hear yours, so if any come to mind, please send them my way.

1. Last month, about 25 of us carrying giant light-filled lanterns made by Edgelands Arts and children from Sandal and Lawefield Lane Primary schools made a procession past Wakefield Cathedral, as spectators gathered for Light Up!

As we turned the corner, we walked up a hushed colonnade of people who were clearly surprised and quite captivated by the beauty and whimsy of the moment.

No one felt the need to do anything other than just experience it. It was absolutely magical and one of those times when you can literally feel the how the energy of a shared creative experience can connect a crowd of people to their common humanity.

2. I love kids, so I cannot tell you how inspiring it has been for me to see pupils from Lawefield Lane (our recently adopted Primary School) come in every week to work in the ceramics studio. But it particularly delighted me when Niamh, one of our Visitor Services team, told me the story of what happened when she was working the Sunday after the Lawefield Lane kids had come for the first time. One of the kids came back with his dad, walked straight up to the reception desk and said “Hi, I’m from Lawefield Lane. Can I do clay today?”

How great is that?

Niamh explained that it was our ceramics technician, Hannah’s day off, but she kindly offered to show him how to take photos with the iPad of the neon sculptures in our gallery (part of Fred Tschida: CIRCLESPHERE, another highlight of the 2021 for The Art House), which he loved and then showed his dad how to do.

When we help kids feel that kind of ownership over cultural spaces, we are helping to open up their world and expand their aspirations. It’s the best gift we can give ourselves for the future.

3. When my partner is up from London on the weekends, I try to escape The Art House and just have some great couple time. One thing we love to do is have a morning coffee at local coffee shop, Kraft.

So imagine our surprise when we sat down in a booth and the two couples in the booth next to us were talking about how great The Art House was. “It’s my new favourite place in Wakefield – the people are so friendly, the shop is amazing and it’s got such a creative vibe.”

The conversation went on for 5 minutes, I kid you not. They even loved the plants out front.

I have to admit that I stayed quiet (honest!) but I did well up a bit.

It’s been a long journey. It was incredibly moving to hear someone not connected to us be that complimentary. It’s a testament to all the hard work we’ve done, and what a difference it is making.

All of that is to say, it may feel like we’re wading through treacle right now, but at least we’re wading in a forward direction. And we’re all in the treacle together.

Which, actually, is quite an enjoyable image, and the one I will leave with you as I wish you peace and love during the holidays.

Stay safe, stay well, and we’ll see you in 2022!



The Art House is now closed for the festive period – we’re looking forward to a good rest and we hope you are too. We’ll be open again on Tuesday 04 January 2022.