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the city talking: leeds — issue 35

the city talking: leeds — issue 35

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Issue 35 of The City Talking is out in Leeds now, and available free inside Friday’s edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

It’s a sunny end to April.

At lunch today, we wandered across the bridge to Brewery Wharf and saw office workers in tailored suits eating Cornettos. The idea of grown adults in bespoke office wear sharing the joy of ice cream at midday — on a weekday — seemed absurd and wonderful. We wondered if Sheaf Street Cafeteria’s shutters would be up, and thought of how, last April, its sunny Yarden was nothing more than a lonely building and a dream.

Some of the world’s greatest cities and civilisations have grown from the edges of rivers and canals, into buildings in its proximity, like Sheaf Street. We watched as a water taxi passed under our feet, under the bridge, towards Granary Wharf — transporting sunshine-revellers to the far end of the South Bank, where some of Leeds most considered dreams, and best beer gardens, reside. The River Aire and its red-brick’d friends are at the centre of some of the conversations around culture in Leeds.

In this issue of The City Talking, we chased culture down the River Aire, following the lead of Leeds City Council’s in-the-works Culture Strategy and Leanne Buchan, the council officer responsible for co-authoring this strategy with all of us here in Leeds. The Culture Strategy’s aim is to provide clarity to the conversations and confusions we have about Leeds culture, and will help guide projects, events and development in the city from 2017-2030. It’s like our own checklist of values and aims, and helps ensure that what’s new in the city is going to contribute to our shared dream for Leeds.

The City Talking: Leeds 35 Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

The City Talking: Leeds 35 Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

We began our chase by asking some of the individuals who we trust with our city’s culture — four of its artists — what they’d dream up as part of their version of a Culture Strategy. Their subject was Leeds South Bank and their lives creating and living in Leeds.

We sent them off, and a few weeks later we met them in pairs at a coffee shop and a gallery in the South Bank to see what they came up with. We’ve included these conversations, as well as their finished work, in our pages.

Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

The first pair are illustrators: Olivia Newsome and TONE. Olivia, a Leeds College of Art Student, already has a plan for the South Bank in mind; an open space with free technology, so that people in Leeds can learn, experiment and create. “There’d be a space for exhibitions and a coffee bar for creative people to mix and collaborate. It’s a dream scenario, but that’s what it would be,” she says.

“The city as a whole needs to be able to interact with that space, a way for people to express themselves,” adds street artist TONE.

Our second meeting was with two Leeds photographers, Peter Mitchell and Tom Joy. Both Peter and Tom’s photography has been shaped by the pavements and buildings of the city, whose splendour and decay is re-framed and reinvented through their lens.

“I came to Leeds in 1970, and I remember all those gable ends that you saw from the train coming into Leeds, whole lines of them to the railway edge,” says Peter.

Peter and Tom chat about their move to Leeds, unearthing imagination in the cityscape and amateur phone-photography.

Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

When we heard about the Art Hostel on Kirkgate we thought it had always existed in Leeds — at Assembly House, Patrick Studios on Mabgate. In classrooms and conversations. In the city’s culture, as curated and designed and created by artists. We decided to take a look for ourselves, where we met a human pillow and enjoyed the view from the best trainspotting bunk in Leeds.

Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

Photograph by Shang-Ting Peng

We end this month’s issue with a return to the South Bank and Salem Church Hall, where in October of 1919 Leeds United was born from a thousand lovers of football and our city.

The City Talking: Leeds issue 35 is free inside the Yorkshire Evening Post tomorrow, and in some of the city’s best sunny spots.

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