White Cloth – just what Leeds needs!?!

When we heard Leeds was to get a new gallery with photography and film as it’s remit, we were excited. So, following Ant’s photos yesterday, here are Mat Dale’s thoughts, comments and images…

On the discovery that Leeds was to be blessed with a new and to my knowledge, with its first gallery dedicated to photography and film I’d been counting down the days to its birth. Well, what can i say but that my high hopes and expectations were more than satisfied and realised on the opening night of the White Cloth Gallery. On arrival (and only 10 minutes fashionably late) I was pleasantly surprised to see the place bustling and a hive of activity at such an early start to the evening. A very promising start.

First port of call was to find the free booze and nibbles (usually expecting some cheap caustic plonk in white plastic disposable cup and paper plates scattered with some flavourless crisps and nuts). Yet again I was blown away when i was greeted by the friendly staff offering me some nice fizz in a glass flute and a selection of delicious canapes served with a tantalising description of what i was proceeding to stuff me gob with. Yummy!

Fed and watered, I wandered past the second, yes second bar, to the two rooms at the rear of the building where the distant murmurs of some live gypsy jazz a la Django was playing and the sound of excited conversation echoed. Bumping into a few friends and new aquaintances on the way up I finally made it to where the magic was and i really wanted to be – surrounded by the numerous beautifully created and displayed photographic works of Jocelyn Bain Hogg’s ‘The Family’ along with signed copies of the book and an open bid to win a signed, limited-edition print. After feasting my giddy and greedy eyes on all the ‘sweets in the shop’, I legged it to the bar on discovery that all the drinks were free for the night and what a great selection there was too. Although I would have liked to have had a nice local hand-pulled one on offer though.

The ‘party was in full swing’ when we were greeted with some inspirational and welcoming words from the legend that is Peter Dench (and he’s also the gallery’s Creative Director) about the gallery’s hopes and aspirations to become a cultural hub to showcase not only the “A-list photographers of the likes of Jocelyn Bain Hogg” but also established and emerging local artists as well as a great place for like-minded, socially-aware artists/photographers and art-lovers to meet up, hang-out, socialise, network, be inspired and put Leeds on the map as the premiere destination in the North for photography.

This is exactly what Leeds needs. With the White Cloth Gallery it’s definitely not ‘grim up North’.

The future’s bright, the future’s White!

Words and photographs by Mat Dale.

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