Past, Present and Future

Founder member and Artistic Director since 1988, David Wheeler leaves IOU after 47 years

In November 2023, we were joined by over 120 guests from across the arts and cultural sectors to celebrate David Wheeler’s 47-years of creativity with the company. As a founder member and Artistic Director since 1988, David leaves IOU with an impressive body of work that has helped to change the artistic landscape of the UK.

The event, held at the IOU Hebden Bridge Hostel, brought together many of the original members and artistic partners, who listened to David’s talk and shared memories from over the near half-century – from its formation in 1976, as a small collective of fine artists, sculptors, poets and musicians, to today’s many-layered National Portfolio Organisation, 

Productions from across these years can be found on our Timeline

IOU artist and partner Louise Oliver presented David with a hand made wall hanging created from images and cuttings spanning his years and work at  IOU

‘’We are entering a new era in the arts and this is the perfect time for me to leave IOU.  I feel very lucky to be leaving on a high-note with the company in great shape and with ambitious plans for the future.’’ David Wheeler

Looking to the future

In 2016, together with Joanne Wain, David oversaw IOU’s move within Dean Clough to bring all its operations under one roof in the IOU Studio. The 1,000 sqm of studio, office, workshop and gallery space is where the creative team, in collaboration with artists, makers, engineers, technicians and academics, continues to make innovative new work, often blending unconventional and unfamiliar ideas with traditional crafts, heavy engineering and digital technology.

In April 2022, IOU expanded into the management of the 14-bedroomed Hostel. This serves as an outpost for IOU’s work with emerging artists and provides accommodation for visitors to the Calder Valley. It also offers a space for creative retreats and workshops for artists and the wider community and is central to the organisation’s future plans.


As the company moves into the next stage the IOU Studio will become the IOU Creation Centre alongside the IOU Hebden Bridge Hostel

With David’s departure, IOU has restructured with Joanne Wain now leading the company as CEO with Richard Warburton, who joined the company in September 2023, in the new role of Creative Director, tasked to shape the new IOU Creation Centre together with the small and dedicated IOU team.

With a company legacy and a previous body of work that provides  a unique and strong foundation, IOU will continue to use its resources and multi-site facilities to support artists and companies to produce work across Calderdale and the UK as the North’s leading Creation Centre for interdisciplinary art, engineering and technology.