Hidden Wakefield in the Stars


On Wednesday November 30 artist Andy Abbott will reveal outcomes of a summer of research about ‘Hidden Wakefield’ at the bi-monthly Art Walk. Hidden Wakefield was a commission by Beam on behalf of the Wakefield Arts Partnership that aimed to find out more about what people in Wakefield value and their relationship to the city and district.


In a series of engagements that reached over 2700 people, Andy used a portable pyramid and augmented reality smartphone technology to have discussions about Hidden Wakefield. Members of the public were invited to ‘look inside’ the pyramid – called the Wakefield Centre for Dark Matter – using an iPad app that revealed constellations and star maps relating to people, groups, places, and events from Wakefield’s past, present and future. They were then invited to suggest what about the district they’d put in the pyramid for its next appearance.

Contributions ranged from pioneering conservationist and satirical taxidermist Charles Waterton, to the Pontefract Calligraphy Club, to the song Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush’ (apparently composed at Wakefield Prison), to local historian and ‘Wakefield Champion’ Kate Taylor, to Castleford-born Bioni Sampt the inventor of the honey-powered ‘Hive synthesiser’, to the ‘UK if not the world’s’ first independent record label and studio Holyground Records, to the Compton Cinema Organ in Ossett Town Hall and the community Iftar held last year at Lightwaves Community Centre.


Andy says –

“The research has been fascinating and has revealed a very different picture of Wakefield and the district to what I or others might expect. I got an overwhelming impression of a rural, peaceful, inventive and caring district with people that are proud of their heritage and keen to preserve that whilst being very open and welcoming to others.

 There’s also a naughty streak running throughout the history of Wakefield with the ’merrie city’, free festivals, illegal raves, independent and DIY culture – sometimes met with a tough love approach from the authorities – and a playful and sometimes bizarre side that includes Fish and Strips nights at Heppys and, of course, the world renowned pie shop.”

The contributions have been archived on an online gallery at www.darkmattercentre.com

and there’s still an opportunity to contribute your own via the web page and an online form.



Wakefield Artwalk Showcase

For the Wakefield Art Walk on November 30th Andy has worked with designer Ben Holden to produce a Wakefield Zodiac star chart print as well as performance for synthesiser and spoken word using Wakefield Horoscopes that will be performed as part of the Unity Words event at Unity Works at 7pm (door price is pay-as-you-feel).

If you visit the Prince Albert pop-up bar in Westgate Studios or the Wakefield Beer Exchange on Artwalk night keep an eye out for Wakefield Fortune Tellers who will be set up to offer to read your destiny through a specially designed set of Wakefield Dark Matter ‘tarot cards’.


Cultural activity during the festive season

If you’re celebrating the festive season in Wakefield, the arts & cultural scene will be buzzing with wonderful events.

Here are some of the highlights…..
Sleeping Beauty


Wakefield Theatre Royal, Thursday 24 November – Saturday 31 December

Wakefield’s very own panto returns for another year, featuring all the fun, laughter, music and drama you’ve come to love.

Find out more.

WALLPAPER : hope, fear and digital fiction launch event

The Art House, Thursday 17 November 16.00–18.00

Join One to One Development for the launch of WALLPAPER, an immersive digital fiction work exhibited as a large scale projection and virtual reality experience. As the reader/player of WALLPAPER, your task is to explore the house examining forgotten heirlooms and personal artefacts, to slowly reveal the story of PJ and a family history of unfulfilled hopes and hidden fears.

Come along to find out more about the project and future events.

Free | Booking required

Find out more.

Wakefield Jazz Christmas Party

Friday 9 December

A Swinging Affair with Claire Martin, Ray Gelato and the David Newton Trio

Our Christmas Party – A three set gig starting at 8:00pm, with a buffet meal in the first interval and a monster raffle in the second.

If you like your music sassy, sharp and swinging then this is for you.

Find out more.

Nostell Priory
Get your creative juices flowing at Nostell this season with a range of creative workshops, from paper craft to festive felting. Pick up handmade goodies at the craft fair and plan your Christmas with events and activities for all the family, including Family Festive Fun activities, Meeting Father Christmas or how about a Christmas Eve wintry walk followed by something warming in the café.

Find out more.

Wakefield Artwalk: Studio Tours & Events

Wednesday 30 November, 5 – 9pm

The Artwalk is an alternative night out. It exists to showcase local, national and international talent in a whole range of settings. Not only will you experience great Art, it’s also your chance to see more of the city, discovering new venues and revisiting old favourites. You will get a unique opportunity to gain insight into practising artists based in Wakefield and beyond, whilst meeting new people in a relaxed enjoyable atmosphere.

Find out more.

National Coal Mining Museum for England


Christmas @ Pit
Join the festive fun at the Museum with family-friendly activities such as Santa Underground, Under 5’s Christmas Fun Day & the Christmas Wishes Family Workshop. Get in the Christmas spirit with the Kirkwood Hospice Christmas Experience weekend and the glorious Festive Brass Band night. Delicious festive treats will tempt your tastebuds in the café. Don’t miss the Special Exhibition: A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ on until 18 January 2017 exploring how acts of generosity by total strangers made Christmas possible for families of striking miners in 1984.

Find out more.

The Hepworth Wakefield

Christmas Market
Saturday 26 – Sunday 27 November, 10-5pm, FREE ENTRY

‘One of Britain’s best Christmas markets’ The Guardian
‘One of the top 10 Christmas markets in the North’ Creative Tourist

Featuring a handpicked selection of some of the UK’s most exciting designers, printers and makers. Find the perfect Christmas gift and fill your stockings with beautiful ceramics, unique prints, jewellery, handmade crafts, homeware and much more! Meet Father Christmas & enjoy family-friendly activities.

Find out more.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Get into the festive spirit this winter at YSP with an abundance of activities and events for all the family, glorious food and a treasure trove of treats in the YSP Shop to meet all your Christmas shopping needs.

Find out more.

Unity Works


Check out Unity’s December events and get in the Christmas party spirit! Unity Works brings you the best New Years party around. The evening will be held in their stunning Major Hall and jam packed with the best Funk, Soul, Motown and Northern Soul floor fillers.

Find out more.

Crux, Providence Street, Wakefield


Crux is a brand new creative space at 15 – 19 Providence Street, Wakefield. WE ARE and the Crux crew have been transforming the space into a creative centre for music, art and co working.

Dates for your diary: Wednesday 7 December – Christmas Quiz Night, Friday 9 December – The Spills EP Launch, Thursday 15th – Film Night

Find out more.

WAP’s COoL Trip to Liverpool

In May 2016, Wakefield Arts Partnership hosted a public event to discuss the kind of group or organisation it may develop into, and how it could represent Arts Organisations and individuals in Wakefield.

We invited some guest speakers from other areas, including Bev and Jack from the snappily titled COOL (Creative Organisations Of Liverpool). COOL was formed in 2007 as a way of representing small / medium sized organisations in the city, with one eye on the legacy of the city’s successful Capital of Culture bid. It has since gone from strength to strength, currently with 30 members and we were delighted to be invited to shadow their September meeting.

Myself, Dean Freeman from Unity Works, and Kate Watson from Beam braved the brisk late September weather to catch the train from Westgate at a few minutes to 7am. A few hours later, we arrived at Bluecoat, a centre for contemporary arts housed in a beautiful 18th century grade 1 listed building with a huge offer including multiple gallery spaces, creative business and community participation programmes.

The meeting, which takes place monthly, saw the organisations share information on work undertaken since the last meeting, and a notable discussion was held on the various sub-groups that exist outside the main group. Members of the main group also participate in smaller groups, which lead on items such as Marketing & Advocacy, Development and the Festival Forum.

With a proven track record there was a clear enthusiasm and shared sense of purpose around the room that manifested itself in the fact COOL has so many members and active sub-groups. Wakefield Arts Partnership doesn’t yet have the numbers of dedicated members to undertake this amount of work, yet the scale of the work being undertaken and the level of shared working also outreaches our own, meaning WAP should not see this as negative.

It was interesting to see how the role of Jack as the group Co-ordinator worked. This is a funded role and as Jack updated the group on the work he and Bev (not at the meeting) had undertaken recently, it became apparent how essential that was. The work of the two roles cover differing areas, but combined they looked at funding opportunities, maintain the strength of the group by keeping in contact with the members, sharing and collecting information and – recently – working on a business plan for the group and completing work on the groups new website.

There were some interesting parallels with Wakefield; The Atkinson, a venue in Southport, was attending the meeting for the first time, and they were the first member from the Boroughs of Liverpool. Traditionally COOL has only represented Liverpool city based organisations, and this brought to mind WAPs discussions on its obligations (or otherwise) to Wakefield’s Five Towns and the organisations and artists within.

After the meeting, we spoke to Peter from Hope Street Limited who originally setup the group in 2007. I asked how important the shared purpose of something like the Capital Of Culture accolade was, and he agreed it was imperative. Within WAP, but also other groups such as Wakefield First, this same point has been noted, that a collective goal to rally behind is essential in getting the ball rolling. When I visited Sunderland on behalf of WAP last year, I was told the same thing in reference to their City Of Culture bid.

We offer our thanks to COOL for allowing us to snoop on their activities – it was certainly inspirational and gives us good guidance for developing WAP in the coming 12 months.

by Dean Freeman