Hexham has a rich history of tanning and leatherwork, dating back over a thousand years. The craftsmanship, cattle and ready supply of running water made Hexham world renowned down the ages. In 1823, for example, over 200,000 pairs of gloves were made in the town. Now Andy Bates, master craftsman, and one of our former policemen, has combined with Northumberland College to launch a new Leatherwork course in Hexham.
The Certificate in Creative Leather Work will be taught at the college’s Hexham Centre on St. Mary’s Wynd from February. Andy has been making bespoke, hand-stitched leathergoods, pieces for TV and film and historical reconstructions for 30 years and in 2013 he was shortlisted for the national Craft Skills Awards for his teaching work.
Amongst many others, Andy has made pieces for the Turner Prize-winning potter Grayson Perry, for the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in Durham, for the Discovery Channel and Channel 4 and for the Grange Park Opera. Andy has also been commissioned by Bloomsbury to write the definitive book on leather and working with leather.
Andy said: “This hands-on course will introduce students to the skills of traditional, English leatherwork which they will then be able to use to create contemporary leathergoods, historical pieces and works of art. For more details on the course go to: http://www.northumberland.ac.uk/
For more details of the Hexham history of tanning see here: http://www.visithexham.net/history-heritage-leather.htm. When you visit you can always pop in to the Old Tannery Pub on Gilesgate! For my part I will be dropping in on Andy and seeing the work they are doing next Friday February 7th at around 2pm.