Friday, 18 March 2011

Leeds writers see work carved into stone on city’s oldest street

*******Photo/film opportunity*******

Two Leeds writers have seen their work set in stone on the city's oldest street, Kirkgate.

As part of an art project funded by Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Forward, local writers Antony Dunn and Peter Spafford have created poems about Kirkgate’s thousand year old history which have been carved into stone on the street’s paving and a pair of beautiful granite seats.

The project completes the revamp of this key pedestrian area in Leeds city centre, which has included new paving, trees, and seating. The special written text on Kirkgate highlights the street’s long history and importance to the city. The street is a key gateway from the city’s bus station and markets area.

Media opportunity:

What: Cllr Harper and the two writers Antony Dunn and Peter Spafford with the new paving and granite seats with poems carved into the stone.
Date/time: Monday 21 March, 10.30am, meet outside Debenhams on the junction of Kirkgate and Briggate.

Councillor Gerry Harper, Chair of the Leeds City Centre Partnership Board, said:
"The refurbishment of Kirkgate shows our commitment to provide an attractive city centre to attract visitors, shoppers and business investment – all of which will help boost the city’s economy.
“I'm delighted that with the financial support of Yorkshire Forward, we've been able to crown this project with thoughtful and evocative pieces of writing, which I hope people will discover and enjoy for years to come"

Kirkgate has a history dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086. Over the years it has been home to a prison, a museum and, up until the 19th century, was a fashionable residential district for Leeds’ wealthy merchants.

Prize-winning writer Antony Dunn, of Halton, said:

"I hope that my little poem says something about our communal life in Leeds. Its residents, its traders, the tourists who visit for a short time, have all contributed to the history of this street and the wider city. In our own tiny ways, we all contribute to our shared history and identity, through our everyday activities. Most of our contributions are almost invisible, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, but they all count. I wanted to mark, in this almost-permanent way, those contributions. And it’s a privilege to leave my own mark like this in my own city"

Headingley-based Peter Spafford, formerly the Royal Armouries' Writer in Residence, said:
"Kirkgate was once the main artery between the heart of old Leeds - the Parish Church - and its main market, Briggate. The poems do not refer to particular events in the history of Kirkgate but seek to evoke the antiquity of the street; the impermanence, but persistence, of human traffic over the centuries"

The pieces were engraved on to the paving and on to two granite seats by local masons Mastercraft Memorials. The refurbishment of Kirkgate is another step towards the ongoing revamp of Leeds city centre. The other streets and green spaces to be renovated include: Bond Street, Briggate, King Edward Street, Merrion Street Gardens, Park Square, Chancellor Court , Assembly Street, Albion Street, Albion Place and Lands Lane.

For media enquiries please contact:
Sara.hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602