This is our latest project, taking place this summer in Roundhay Park. We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the park to the public in 1872. We are working with a range of organisations and artists in Leeds to create a performance event for the week of 12 September 2022, and an audio walk that will be available towards the end of September onwards.
We are delving into the fascinating history of the land which can be traced to medieval times, when the ‘Round Hay’ was a piece of enclosed land that provided hunting for the nobility.
The invitation to ‘Meet you at the Mansion?’ is a familiar phrase to many people who have started their visit at the elegant house built by Thomas Nicholson in the early 1800s – now a cafe and restaurant. You might also arrange to meet friends and family at the Lakeside Cafe, at Barran’s Fountain, on Hill 60, or the ‘castle’ overlooking Waterloo Lake.
We have been collecting people’s memories and current thoughts about Roundhay Park. We have worked with two schools in Seacroft and made films recreating some of the extraordinary events taking place in the Park. We have been working with artists from Pyramid of Arts to create a ‘litter shark’ – oh yes! who will be resident in the Park encouraging us to take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints by taking our litter home with us. We are working with young people at Chapel FM on writing projects that reflect their take on the right to access green space – amongst other themes.
John Barran was the visionary Leodiensian who fought to acquire the area as a place for the public to rest and play. This was only achieved with a fight, but he argued:
‘Future generations will remember us with gratitude as they stroll along the pleasant walks and enjoy the ease and shade of trees’
(Leeds Mercury 14 October 1871)
We are part of those future generations. We hope you will join us in September to reflect on Barran’s vision.
Tickets for the performance event will be available through Eventbrite at the beginning of September.
In the meantime please follow us on social media.@aquietwordleeds
On the afternoon of Friday 24 January we’re hosting an event at Chapel FM.
Join us for refreshments from 4-5.30pm. Visit the Seacroft Tapestry installation made over the last year by community groups in collaboration with thread artist Hayley Mills-Styles, and see the film shot and edited by Andy Wood that re-creates some historic moments in the Seacroft story, with a cast of local people. You will also hear from the children about their Site Visit, and meet representatives from Keepmoat.
As part of our Seacroft Tapestry project, we’ve been working with Keepmoat Homes to offer local children an insight into new developments in housing in their local area.
For Site Visit the children will be ‘in role’ as clients, contractors and architects, visiting the site office, a portakabin on South Parkway. They will look at site plans, learn about how buildings are designed and what different process are involved. Specialists from Keepmoat will talk to them about the work in progress in Seacroft.
We are delighted to invite you to Chapel FM to celebrate the launch of The Seacroft Tapestry.
The Tapestry is the culmination of a year of work; a process of collecting and recording stories and experiences of life in the Seacroft area. The stories come from many different perspectives and have been recorded in film and textiles. Lots of people have been involved and this is an opportunity to share and enjoy the work they have created.
On Friday 29th November, 3.30pm-5pm, there will be a warm welcome, including tea and cake at the Old Seacroft Chapel on York Road, for everyone involved in the project and locals of Seacroft.
The winter months are dark and cold, but we hope to offer some light and warmth. If you can’t make the 29th, there will be many other opportunities to come along, and to leave and weave your own story into the Tapestry.
The Tapestry will be open to the public into the Spring of 2020. Dates and times will be confirmed soon.
As a development of our work in the area, we are pleased to be in partnership with Keepmoat, whose housing developments are rapidly transforming the housing offer in Seacroft. We will shortly be installing an exhibition of textile work, created by members of the community with the support of thread artist, Hayley Mills-Styles. Regular workshops have produced cushions, curtains, bunting and a table cloth with the contributors names embroidered, to celebrate the communal creative process. We thought that if Bayeux could have a tapestry, Seacroft could have one too.
Exhibition dates will be announced shortly.
The Leeds Tarot
In Spring 2020, we will begin work on The Leeds Tarot. This will explore the tradition of using cards to interpret dreams, to support hopes and ambitions, to try out new scenarios, and to dare to design your own future. Watch this space for information on how to get involved.
New site-specific performance piece House will take place between 30 January and 3 February in Headingley, Leeds. You are invited behind closed doors for a conversation in the dark, and to where the present overlays the past…
House begins with the story of Robert Arthington, a rich man locally known as the Headingley Miser. He built a large house for his bride; but the bride never came. So he lived alone in one room, on half a crown a week, and received his visitors in the dark.
‘Midway through the journey of my life, I found myself in a dark wood, and the way was not clear. ‘
Dante: The Divine Comedy. Canto 1
In frozen Winter, we began walking and talking in Meanwood Park with people from the local community along well worn paths and hidden tracks. Together, we produced a book ‘Ways Through the Wood’ a kind of ‘choose your own adventure story’ that collects pieces of creative writing, historical stories and suggestions for ways to explore the area.
As Spring has moved into Summer, a particularly potent story emerges; one of family grief for a son lost in a war; of an ornamental garden that would have been his inheritance, then gifted to the city of Leeds in his memory. The family’s loss is the city’s gain. Lost and Found
Now we are preparing to invite people on a walk that is rooted in the history of the area, in respect for the past and hope for the future.
Between 28th June and 2nd July we invite you to walk with us, way through a dark wood…
And we hope, to find the way clear.
Advanced Booking is essential for this event. Book here
The ticket price charged here is a small deposit to ensure your place on the walk, this will be returned to you on attendance.
Performances will run at 5pm & 8pm each day.
The journey will take you over uneven ground and different terrains.
Please wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather.
Further details will be sent when we receive your booking.
The performance is Pay What You Decide, so please come prepared.
If you have particular access needs please get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday the 28th of June at 8pm and Friday the 1st of July at 5pm the performance will be supported by a BSL interpreter.
1. I use a wheelchair, am I still able to attend? – The route takes participants over rough, uneven and muddy ground. There are also narrow paths and steep gradients. With regret we don’t feel the piece is wheelchair accessible. It is also not suitable for people who use a walking frame.
2. I have children under 12, would they enjoy the piece? – The route takes around 90 minutes to walk and goes over uneven terrain. If younger children need to be carried, that should be bared in mind. The route is not suitable for buggies. The content is appropriate for under 12s.
3. I have a dog, can they come along? – This is a public park so there will be dogs in the area, however as a participant on the walk, which is a group experience, we strongly recommend leaving ‘Fido’ at home.
4. What if the weather is bad? – We recommend you come dressed for a walk in the park in the British ‘summer’! We particularly recommend wellington boots or stout, waterproof walking shoes. There is mud underfoot. We are prepared come rain or shine so the show will go on.
5. What if I want to leave halfway through? – No problem, it will have been nice to see you.
6. Are there toilet facilities on the walk? – There is a toilet at the beginning of the walk – this is not wheelchair accessible, and at end of the walk, which is. Please ask an usher for directions.
As part of our 365 Leeds Stories project, we will be taking part in Light Night on 3 October this year. Following A Leeds Labyrinth, which we presented in the Arts Space upstairs during May, Matthew and Alison will be bringing the central section of the structure to the main library space during the evening.
We will be launching the Almanac, a functioning diary for 2015. This Almanac is presented as part of the ongoing project; a record of the past and an invitation for the future. On its pages are reflected the ideas of over 300 people and our experience of living in Leeds. In the course of a year, stories were told aloud, poems, ballads and songs composed, paintings and photographs made, shadow puppets set loose on film, embroideries sewn and a radio programme broadcast. We travelled around the edges of the city with enquiring eyes and brought it all together in an installation ‘A Leeds Labyrinth’ at the Central Library in May 2013.
On each page of the Almanac is a story written by Matthew Bellwood, who in 2011 began a daily transmission via Twitter of snippets of overheard conversations, odd bits of local history, personal reflections and vignettes from the streets. As more stories were written, people responded, offering their own thoughts and stories in return. This ongoing microblog, @365LeedsStories, created a picture of the city – a sort of map of a particular space and time.
Since September 2013, A Quiet Word has been working with Moveable Feast and a team of artists to create further maps that trace aspects of the past and the present of our daily experience of living in Leeds. These maps have a range of forms. They bear little resemblance to the A-Z, or the tourist maps provided to guide visitors around the city, but offer psychic, geographic, sentimental, embodied, imaginary – and impossible journeys that may nevertheless be undertaken. We have also been thinking about the future, especially with the young people we have worked with, of primary school age and teenagers. We have considered what information might be needed and what constructive visions will sustain us as we go forward, collectively, into the next decades.
The origin of the word Almanac is debated – it could derive from the Greek ‘almenichiaka’, meaning calendar, with information about the movement of the stars and agricultural records, or possibly from Arabic ‘al-manakh’, referring to the climate and forecasting of the weather. The idea of presenting statistical information relevant to special interests along with a tabulated way to track time is ancient and enduring. Contemporary almanac publications cover a comprehensive range of subjects including sport, medicine, politics, farming, economics and show business. This is one designed to make space for you and your stories, as well as being a functioning diary for the coming year.
We hope to see you on 3 October …
We are delighted to have received support from Leeds Inspired for our autumn 2014 project ‘Roseville’. This is a site specific performance piece celebrating the life and history of Roseville Road in Leeds. It’s a great story:
Roseville Road is at first sight one of those chaotic, nondescript, slightly run down inner city roads, which you only drive up or down to get to somewhere else. Most of the houses which used to line it have been demolished. The residential buildings have given way to car show rooms, self storage warehouses, wholesale outlets for the ragtrade and used furniture stores.
Nevertheless, if find yourself walking along either side of the wide road and have the time to really look at the buildings, you might be surprised. You might want to break your journey into the centre of the city, or back out to the suburbs – you might want to stay awhile.
Let’s say, we begin at the New Roscoe Pub, the venue for tribute bands which is in family ownership. We are greeted by Mein Host who tells us a little of the nearly famous musicians who have played there over the years.
We pass the KMA building which houses the specialists in doors and window frames, the dojo where it is possible to have a personal coaching session on a Sunday, by appointment only and a wholesale textiles outlet. All of these businesses are closed on Fridays, as if conspiring to keep this end of the street quiet that day.
Opposite is a large carpet warehouse with a colourful display of floor coverings in the window – you could almost imagine that these are sculptured into fabulous outfits. There are people making patterns with the offcuts on the pavement – they wave at us and continue with their work.
We turn left into the lane which leads to Berwin, tailors. The stones on the foundations of the long, low building attest to the founding father, son and nephew who laid them in 1935, Jacobson. The business has been operating as Berwins since the 50s. On the other side of the road, Bridget is watching the traffic on the pavement. She tells us that they have only recently had the business on Roseville Road – ‘only since 1985 ..’ she says. The business is owned by her father and it supplies Leeds market traders with sweaters, cardigans and casual tops. She has to stand outside on the pavement between 9.00 and 11.00 am, to try and stop cars parking outside, so that the delivery van can unload. The parking situation is so bad because people working at St James’ hospital don’t want to pay the parking charges up there, so they park for free on Roseville Road. They don’t realize people have to earn a living.
Josie at number 65 remembers what the road was like when there were houses on both sides, and a school. Her’s is the only row of houses left on the street now.
We walk into the quiet, clean temple of Samuel Taylor’s, the haberdashery and stationery wholesalers. It is cool and light inside. There is a group of older people quietly at work with scissors and card. As we leave, we are given an invitation to a wedding.
Back on the road, the buildings have narrow fronts and boarded up windows. We enter a whitewashed hallway and climb narrow stairs which take us to the first floor of what appears at first to be a tiny structure. A vast array of second hand furniture stretches over several thousand square metres. From the window overlooking the road, we can see right across to the Parkinson Building tower. Backlit in this window, a couple are arguing over the issue of whether to buy bunk beds or twin beds for their children. The children meanwhile are bouncing energetically on a double bed nearby.
A young man is being fitted for a morning suit in the window of the gentleman’s outfitters.
His bride walks toward him, up the street, on the arm of her father. Her dress appears to be constructed from carpet of all hues and patterns. Her veil nevertheless is gossamer and floats gently down the street behind her, the bridesmaids catching the hem before it gets tangled.
At the Chinese Restaurant a feast is served for us, the wedding guests. Music plays. A Dragon dances, and then moves off, into the distance.
Please join us from 4 May at the Central Library in Leeds for a journey through a labyrinth. 365 Leeds Stories is a collaboration between Alison Andrews and Matthew Bellwood and our companies A Quiet Word and Moveable Feast. A Leeds Labyrinth is a collection of the work we have done with a wide range of people in the city from September 2013 – gathering stories and making maps of places important to us. These maps have been rendered in embrodieries, as shadow puppets, soundscapes, photographed, drawn as cartoons and presented in books.
We look forward to seeing you.