Giant ‘picnic blanket’ goes on show outside restored cathedral to cloth

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It was Yorkshire’s cathedral to cloth, so it was appropriate, said the artist, that its first sculpture should share its heritage.

The Blanket, a representation of traditional textiles, hewn from twisted metal, goes on display at the restored Halifax landmark next week.

The Blanket at the Piece Hall, Halifax. Picture: Charlotte Graham

The Blanket at the Piece Hall, Halifax. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Commissioned from the Newcastle sculptor David Murphy and funded partly by the Arts Council, it was selected from more than 40 submissions and will occupy part of the 66,000 sq ft piazza until April.

Mr Murphy used steel tubes to create a 50ft wide magnified weave of intercepting lines that form what he called a “large ‘picnic blanket”.

He said he had been inspired to create it by the architecture of the 18th century building.

“It felt absolutely the right place for it to be,” he said, adding that the courtyard was “complete revelation – when you step into it it’s at once bigger and more intimate”.

Mr Murphy, who is now based in London, has previously shown work internationally and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which formed a partnership with the Piece Hall to commission him.

“It’s not often you see somewhere that combines history, textiles and architecture so perfectly as the Piece Hall”, Mr Murphy said.

“I have spent a large part of my career so far considering the relationship between architecture and textiles, creating work that is heavily influenced by each subject. This commission brought the two together so clearly, allowing me to delve into the history and details of the building itself.”

The Grade I listed Piece Hall re-opened in 2017 following a £19m restoration. In its original form, it housed basement stalls and two upper colonnades that led to more than 300 arched rooms where unfinished “pieces” of cloth were put on sale to merchants. But its popularity waned after the Industrial Revolution.