Art and Creativity: Artist call by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings

The Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings are in the process of putting a bid in to the Arts Council of up to £15,000. We would like to call on a lead artist, who has experience of producing high quality art with community groups in funded schemes, to help shape the artistic content and delivery mechanism of the project, finalise costs and deliver the project subject to a successful outcome (in 2020). The total project costs will include the artist fee and delivery costs and this will be finalised in consultation with the lead artist. We are interested to hear from any artist who would like work with us and wider community groups to draw on the inspiration from the historic Flaxmill Maltings to create exciting art work, as well as upskilling and mentoring our current community arts group members.

There is plenty of interest in the history to inspire creative workshops and get the community involved. The Friends have had an active community arts group for around ten years working in a range of mediums, who we would want the artist to engage in the project and further develop. We are looking for this project to diversify our audience, engage local people of all ages and former maltsters and their families, but we look forward to hearing the ideas you might have. As an artist, your medium can be drawing, digital, textile or craft.



The Flaxmill Maltings started life in 1797 as a flax mill, where up to 800 people were working to create linen thread out of flax. To avoid the risk of fire, it was the first building in the world to be built with a cast iron frame, and as such it was the forerunner to the skyscraper. A canal was built to enable coal to be brought to the factory and the huge chimney would have been visible for miles around. Children were involved as apprentices. The flax mill closed in the 1880s and the site was redeveloped as a maltings, where barley was turned into malt for the beer brewing process. As part of this redevelopment in 1897, the large windows were blocked up and smaller windows were put in to create the right environment for the malting. A kiln and jubilee tower were added, which gives the building its recognisable character.

During the Second World War, the factory was used as infantry training centre, and soldiers were stationed here. It was colloquially known as the “rat hotel”.

The maltings ceased to be operational in 1987 and the site was left unused until 2005 when English Heritage (now Historic England) stepped in to save the Grade I listed building. Restoration of the Main Mill and Kiln is set to finish in 2021, when the building will be available for commercial tenants. The ground floor will house an interpretation centre run by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings and a café.


Aim of the project:

  • Drawing on the inspiration of this historical site, appoint an artist to upskill our community arts group, engage local community groups and reach new and diverse audiences through the creation of quality artwork for display on and off site.



  • Enabling every-day creativity for a range of about 40-50 different participants through the inspiring story of the Flaxmill Maltings;

  • Help increase local ownership of the site and its heritage, a sense of place/space;

  • Expanding audiences interested in the story of the Flaxmill Maltings through an artistic lens and creative approaches like a travelling exhibition;

  • Upskill and mentor the existing six members of the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings Community Arts Group;

  • Help embed arts in the redevelopment and future of the site.



  • Work with the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings to help shape the artistic content and delivery mechanism of an Arts Council England funded project and finalise costs, and help with the writing of the bid. (A one-off payment of £300 will be available to cover the cost of the initial work before the ACE bid is submitted);

  • Subject to the Arts Council England project bid being successful, to deliver the artistic element of the project;

  • Familiarise yourself with the story of the Flaxmill Maltings to design creative workshops;

  • Lead a session to engage with the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings Community Arts Group;

  • Work with the Friends to identify and market community workshops;

  • Organise a series of creative workshops with community groups, engaging between 40-50 people;

  • Create final art works on panels to be displayed on fencing around Flaxmill Maltings building works;

  • Curate an exhibition for Heritage Open Days September 2020 and be present at a pre-view event prior to opening;

  • Devise a programme to reach a wider audience;

  • Work with the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings to administer the project, including evaluation.


As our aim is to work up the proposal in February with delivery (if successful) May – September 2020, please be aware of this time investment.


Please note that space is available for delivery of the project at the Flaxmill Maltings, but a permanent base during the project may not be possible, due to ongoing building works.

How to register interest:

If this is something that is of interest to you, please download this form and return it to [email protected] before Sunday 2 February 2020 at 5pm.

Your main contact for this project will be Richard Benjamin ([email protected]).