General Gallery Reviews

Yorkshire Post Magazine, 26 September 2009

Yorkshire Post Magazine, 26 September 2009

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About Us




“Pink is one of my signatures," says Kath Libbert, referring to a glittering pink canvas above her fireplace. "Also birds. Particularly chickens," and she motions towards a portrait of some by a San Francisco-based British artist Thomas Hill on the other side of the room.
It's not surprising to find that Kath has an innate sense of style - quirky style at that. She is the owner of a jewellery gallery in Saltaire that has gained a national and international reputation for cutting-edge and unusual pieces.
Kath set up her jewellery business 15 years ago as a bit of a hobby, alongside a job as a counselling psychologist in adult mental health, but the jewellery business went from strength to strength and she now runs it full-time.
Kath has lived in her Addingham home with partner Jon Crook, a freelance sound technician, for four years now, and in that time the couple have set about transforming the place.
The first thing to go once they moved in was the pink wall-to-wall carpeting in the front room (it was the wrong kind of pink). "We ripped it up on the first day," says Kath, "uncovering these wonderful floorboards." These were cleaned with caustic soda rather than sanded, in order to retain the texture and patina, and given a deep coloured stain. Similarly, all wallpaper had to go, to be replaced by white walls throughout. “I like everything white,” says Kath, "because it gives a clean backdrop. I have tried colour, but I can't live with it. I like the cleanness of white and the fact that I can put lots of colour against it."
Kath and Jon have used this successful formula throughout the house, displaying beautiful objects and brightly coloured fabrics in a fresh and vibrant yet uncluttered manner.
Once ceilings were replastered and windows and fireplaces replaced, the house was indeed ready for Kath to "fill with my quirky things", as she puts it. These include a collection of Staffordshire flatbacks, a few of which are displayed - alongside jewellery from the gallery – on the mantelpiece.
"I like them because they really are quite strange,” says Kath, singling out one of Princess Victoria sitting on a goat. “You just have to ask why?”
As in her gallery, so in her  home - Kath is driven by seeking out the distinctive and the unusual. She comes from a strong line of women drawn to doing so. Her greatgrandmother (whose portrait hangs in Kath and Jon's bedroom) commissioned one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture, Mies van der Rohe, to design a family home, the Tugendhat House in Brno. Her mother worked for Finmar, one of the first companies to bring Scandinavian furniture to Britain.
"I love trawling round car boot sales, vintage shops and sale rooms," says Kath as she sits at the same Scandinavian table and chairs in her kitchen that once lived in the
Hampstead home where she grew up. On the table is a Chinese pewter
container from her grandmother's extensive collection of Asian art (now
mostly in a museum) and above us is a sculptural piece of breasts made in
finger-knitted wire by Czech artist Blanka Sperkova. Kath has a passion for chairs, and each of the chairs in the house has a tale, such as the tulip-shaped one in Kath and Jon's bedroom. "I was driving through France about 15 years ago, and there at the end of a village was a tiny market. I saw the chair from the car and had to have it!"
In the spare room are two leather armchairs acquired in similar fashion in
Germany, and one in suede and metal in the sitting room that Kath fell for while on a jewellery buying trip.
Kath and Jon's bedroom is perhaps the most colourful in the house - with a multicoloured crocheted throw, vintage curtains with a design of parrots and flowers and a collection of postcards of Flamenco dancers.
Birds feature again in the white bathroom, where hangs a pair of hand-painted mirrors featuring swans.
"'I spend a lot of time at Salts Mill, but probably equal amounts of time in my office," says Kath, "so it's a room that is really important to me."
Sitting in her Eames chair, she can look up from her computer and out over gardens to Beamsley Beacon.
There is a lovely plan chest, extraordinary pieces of jewellery hung on the walls like the works of art they are and a guest bed draped with a Scandinavian design bedspread found, like many things in the house, at Skipton Antiques.
This room is the creative centre of a truly creative household.

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford BD18 3LA. Tel/Fax 01274 599790. For directions see About Us
Open Monday - Friday 10am - 5.30pm. Weekends 10am - 6pm.