Leeds Light Night – 3 October 2014

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 …