Bradford’s literary heritage celebrated as Bronte Lecture Theatre opened

Bradford College student Joshua Robson with Bronte artwork

A 200-year legacy linking Bradford with Yorkshire’s iconic literary family has been honoured as a lecture theatre at Bradford College has officially been reopened as the Bronte Lecture Theatre.

The newly named theatre, in the college’s David Hockney Building, has been officially re-opened in the presence of special guests from the Bronte Society and Bronte Parsonage Museum.

Dawn Leak, Vice Principal, said: “Our lecture theatre was renamed by Bradford College staff by popular vote during the Winter Staff Conference in December and ties in perfectly with Anne Bronte’s 200th birthday, which is being celebrated across Bradford this year. The name highlights the proud literary heritage of the area and reflects the contribution of the Bronte sisters’ works in our curriculum.”

The ribbon was cut by the college’s Chair of Governors, Cath Orange, along with Harry Jelley, Audience Development Officer: Contemporary Arts commissioner at the Bronte Parsonage Museum and Ann Dinsdale, Principal Curator, from the Bronte Parsonage Museum and Bronte Society.

During his speech, Harry said: “It seems completely appropriate that a space dedicated to learning and creativity shares the name of a family for whom education was so cherished and in which creativity was nurtured.

“I’m sure the Bronte Lecture Theatre will continue this tradition by being a space in which artists can innovate their practice and think radically about their work.”

Students were also a major part of the theatre’s reopening, with a special exhibition of artwork created by Level 4 and 5 BA Visual Arts students on display. The works of art were creative responses to the 200th anniversary of the youngest Bronte sister’s birth and were created for the Anne Bronte bicentenary exhibition being held throughout March in the South Square Centre in Bradford.

The works include paintings, prints and sculpture. Carole Griffiths, Lecturer in Art and Design at the Bradford School of Art, said: “They had to look at lots of literature. In particular, Anne Bronte’s poems seemed to inspire lots of our students.”

The South Square exhibition officially opened on Friday 6 March. The Bronte Lecture Theatre reopening displayed just some of their creations, which also include linocut prints, hand-made books and even a scale model of a room at the Parsonage complete with specially designed wallpaper and miniature figures. Carole added: “It’s a really diverse show.”

Carole was among the staff who chose the lecture theatre’s new name. She said: “I was working on the Bronte project with South Square Centre at the time and it seemed like the right thing to do, to celebrate that connection between the Brontes and Bradford.

“The exhibition is a positive move towards the students’ professional development and practice. They all had to find their own connection to Anne Bronte.”

Among the students whose work was on display was Joshua Robson. In addition to striking prints on display in the theatre, Joshua has created an interactive model inspired by the Brontes’ family tree. In creating the tree, he used a combination of different materials such as balsa wood and scrolls featuring his favourite quotes from her books, including The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey. He said: “I wanted it to be interactive, for people to be able to touch it, feel it, embrace it.”

The Bradford School of Art BA: Anne Bronte 200 Years is at the South Square Centre in Thornton Road, Bradford, until 29 March 2020.

You can find out more about the Arts and Creative courses offered by the Bradford School of Art at Bradford College on its website.