The Tetley is a centre for contemporary art and learning based in the former headquarters of Tetley’s Brewery on Hunslet Road.
While we recognise that we can’t replace the brewery, which was such a landmark for the city, we hope that our new use of the old Director’s Offices can create a legacy from it and turn the iconic, but un-listed, HQ from a private into a public building that offers something for everyone.
The organisation that operates as The Tetley (Project Space Leeds) was founded in 2006 by two long standing participants in the visual arts in Leeds, Pippa Hale and Kerry Harker. They wanted Leeds to have a centre for new and emerging artists and experimental work, similar to that which had developed in the likes of Gateshead, Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester over the last few years.
Project Space Leeds started in a retail unit in the Whitehall Waterfront development near the station. As the organisation grew, they jumped at the chance of taking on the former Tetley HQ building when it was looking for a new use.
The Tetley opened in November 2013 and has been growing and developing over the last 18 months, during which time we have welcomed well over 100,000 visitors. The Tetley has a focus on working with new and emerging artists, especially from the Yorkshire region and the North, and creating challenging but accessible exhibitions, with four major shows happening each year. However around this sits a much wider programme of arts projects, events and activities.
Participation is at the heart of the organisation and we run a wide mix of programmes that enable people to get involved with art and creativity at a range of levels, most of it free. Due to our location in the now largely post-industrial and rapidly changing area between the town centre and the southern districts of the city, we have a focus on working with communities in south Leeds.
Our projects with south Leeds include a free After School Art Club for a number of Year 4 and Year 5 pupils from St Joseph’s, New Bewerley and Hunslet Carr Primary Schools. The children are picked up by bus after school and undertake art activities at The Tetley every week during term time. We have a theme each term which relates to our wider programmes and the children’s work is displayed in the gallery at the end of each project.
We’ve also been undertaking workshops with the children’s holiday club at the Hunslet Club which have seen us create giant paintings with kitchen utensils and wallets out old milk cartons amongst other things. Most recently we have been working with Leeds City Council and New Bewerley, Hunslet Moor and St Francis of Assisi Primary Schools to create banners that will hang on the lampposts along part of Dewsbury Road as part of the regeneration plan for the street. Soon, we will be starting a project with GCSE art students at Cockburn High School working with them to create work inspired by our current exhibition Painting in Time.
Alongside these projects, there’s always a lot to take part in at The Tetley for everyone. We run free family drop-in art workshops at least every fortnight, with more in school holidays, while our free ‘Tiny Tetley’ creative play sessions for under fives, which we hold once a month, are increasingly popular.
There’s also a range of workshops school trips can book onto, adult art classes and courses as well as talks and screenings relating to our exhibition programme. In addition, we undertake partnerships with other organisations, such as our current project with Pyramid of Arts, working with adults with and without learning disabilities to create an exhibition in July.
As the custodians of The Tetley building, we work to preserve important aspects of its heritage and have changing displays of materials from brewery’s archive. And of course, like all good art centres, we have a Bar and Kitchen, an art-related Shop and we are also a major centre for commercial events, with 100% of profits reinvested in our programmes meaning we can keep as much as possible free to access.
We’re just at the start of a journey of developing The Tetley in an important centre for art both locally and nationally and we want to engage as many people as possible in this, especially as Leeds works up to its bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023.
We’ll be delivering a free family art workshop at this year’s Beeston Festival on Saturday 6th June between 12 – 5pm and keep an eye out also for Joshua Tetley’s Birthday Party, our own family open day, which will be held at The Tetley on 18th July, kicking off our wider ‘Summer of Play’ programme, exploring ideas of art and play. You can find more details about all of the above on our website at: www.thetetley.org
Our galleries are free to visit and open 11am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and 11am – 4pm Sunday, while our Bar and Kitchen is open 9am – 11pm Monday to Friday, 10am – 11pm Saturday and 10am – 8pm Sunday. Pop in and say hello!
By Kenn Taylor, Curator of Participation