'Excellent restaurants, the best countryside, a brilliant community'
David Quillan is director of Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? I love Whitby, and Leeds was always the place we went on Saturdays growing up, hanging around the Dark Arches and the Corn Exchange, but I’d be hard pressed to say anything other than the moors around the Calder Valley. Ted Hughes described them as a “stage for the performance of heaven” – and he wasn’t exaggerating.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? We did the Three Peaks Challenge as a fundraiser for our new building at Square Chapel. To prepare, I did a circuit from my old house in the centre of Todmorden, up the hill past the beautiful Unitarian Church climbing up to Gaddings Dam and across the moor to Stoodley Pike, down to the canal and back. I must have done this walk nearly a hundred times and it will never get old or tired.
If you had to name your Yorkshire‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be? It’d be Todmorden. It gets overshadowed by Hebden Bridge, but it has some excellent restaurants, the best countryside around and a brilliant community of artists and activists.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? The White Rabbit restaurant in Todmorden.
It’s a tiny place that is really daring and experimental with its food. Of course, we’ll be opening a restaurant at Square Chapel in Halifax later this year – at which point my answer will change!
Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire, and why? I’m going to go with Gillie Kerrod of Calderdale Theatre School who has worked tirelessly over many years to nurture, support and improve the lives of young performers. She is totally inspirational.
Name your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer and tell us why? Ted Hughes. His collection Crow is one of my all-time favourite books.
He was obviously a fascinating, complex and divisive character – but I love his words. At school I hated him, but returning to West Yorkshire after three years in Manchester I felt the landscape’s wild, craggy embrace and appreciated the mythology that he created from the mud and stones of this county.
Do you ever find yourself “selling” Yorkshire to others? Absolutely,and Halifax in particular. It’s not hard though.
I think that Halifax will be one of the best weekend breaks in the country. Clearly I’d put the expanded Square Chapel at the heart of that, but with the Piece Hall and new library,Industrial Museum, Eureka!, Halifax Minster and Dean Clough minutes walking away you can fill up a weekend.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work? At Square Chapel, I think that Yorkshireness is at the heart of our ethos.
We have some of the best international work and films from all around the world, but we’re particularly interested in work that resonates with out communities and geography.