Paperbird Artworks began life as a counter-cultural souvenirs project for the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire in 2012. Despite the project completing in 2015 many of the designs remain popular and are still available to buy in our online shop.
The story of Paperbird Souvenirs Project
In 2012 Paperbird's founder, Debbie Nicholson Wood, was a volunteer with Fabric, an arts organisation championing artists and culture in the city. Debbie was helping to establish 'Hand Made in Bradford', a community space and shop showcasing local artists and craftspeople, when the idea for a counter-cultural souvenirs project popped into her head.
The original site for Hand Made in Bradford was the old Virgin Record Store (now Nationwide) in Tyrrell Street. The building formed part of what used to be Brown Muff department store, built in the 19th century.
A slightly downsized Hand Made in Bradford relocated to Market Street, alongside several other units which Fabric made available for artists and craftspeople.
Producing souvenirs for a place in decline seemed like a ridiculous thing to do. But things were about to change.
Bradford Council would open their brave, multi award winning public space in March 2012 and Hand Made in Bradford's opening was set to cleverly coincide with City Park's grand opening day celebrations.
Change had begun!
HMiB evolved while Bradford city centre was very much "down on its uppers". It became infamous for its "hole in the ground", a huge empty space slap bang in the middle of the city centre created by the demolition of its post-war shopping centre in 2006.
Despite its sad appearance visitors continued to come to Bradford (often seeking out their own family's personal histories) and Debbie noticed that staff at HMiB were being asked for gifts featuring the once great city.
Inside HMiB, Market Street
City Park opened in March 2012
The "Urban Garden" was a project which made use of part of the infamous "hole in the ground" The new Broadway shopping centre wasn't to open until November 2016
The grand old buildings behind the Urban Garden are Bradford Cathedral and Kala Sangham arts centre. Paperbird Souvenirs are available to buy in Kala Sangham's Rooftop Cafe.
Debbie and her daughter, Grace E Wood, collaborated on the design of their first product, the Visit Bradford poster. Grace's map art was the main feature of the design, incorporated into a vintage-style railway travel poster.
More artists and designers were commissioned to help create a range of gifts and souvenirs championing the "Great Wool City". For several years this collection of posters, greetings cards, ceramics, badges, fridge magnets, scarves, hats, tshirts, tote bags and teatowels travelled the district, retailing at fairs and events across Bradford.
Best-selling Visit Bradford poster £6 unframed
Debbie with some of Paperbird's gifts and souvenirs, photographed for the Telegraph and Argus at #Shop1, a Fabric 'meanwhile' shop shared with Fairgrounds fairtrade importer and retailer.
Our market stall in City Park
Our stall at a event in BrewHaus