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.