Thursday, 6 December 2012

New Leeds exhibition celebrates the stunning Yorkshire landscape

Caption:  An image on show at the exhibition of Top Withens farmhouse near Haworth which is thought to have been an inspiration for the Emily Brontë classic 'Wuthering Heights'

The striking beauty of the Yorkshire landscape and how it is portrayed in literature is the subject of a new exhibition at Leeds Central Library.

The exhibition entitled ‘Writing Britain’ is now on show at the library off The Headrow showcasing a fascinating collection of writing, imagery and poetical film inspired by Yorkshire.

The exhibition ranges from well-known literature to new and original work. Items from the Leeds library collections are supported by works on loan from the British Library, including a first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Shirley’.

The display has been brought together by Leeds City Council’s library and information service in partnership with the British Library as an extension of their major recent London exhibition ‘Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands’.

Through ‘Writing Britain’, the British Library is working with four libraries across England to bring collection items to the regions, in a programme generously funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

As part of the Leeds element of the exhibition, a group of young people were challenged to create lyrical rhymes and a spoken word film through the Studio 12 creative workshop in the library which explores the relationship between language and the sense of place. The film is set in locations chosen by the young people themselves, and explores their dreams, beliefs and the choices they face in their lives. The finished film and their creative writing around it form part of the exhibition.

In addition the Central Library Writer’s group have also been involved and created new work and recordings which are being exhibited and can be listened to during the exhibition.

Visitors will also be able to add to the exhibition themselves by filling in postcards available in all branch libraries and in the exhibition space for anyone to send in their own poem or prose relating to Leeds or by tweeting @lettertoleeds.

Leeds City Council area development librarian Rose Gibson said:

“We are delighted to be able to put on display the ‘Writing Britain’ Leeds exhibition for people to see and enjoy in Leeds Central Library. This exhibition celebrates the great Yorkshire landscape in literature and showcases both established and new creative writers. We hope people will get involved and send us a postcard or tweet which can be added to the exhibition. There are also some great events to come along to.

“We are very grateful to The British Library and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for their support and generosity in creating this exhibition, and we look forward to welcoming people of all ages to see it.”

Head of Public Engagement and Learning at the British Library Roger Walshe said:

“We are very excited to share Writing Britain more widely around the country. It is fascinating to see the ideas, experiences and original perspectives that these young people bring to each individual project and their local libraries. It’s very rewarding for us to help engage young people in arts and culture – an interest which we hope will stay with them personally and professionally as they move forward.”

The ‘Writing Britain’ exhibition runs in Leeds Central Library, First floor exhibition space, until Wednesday 30 January 2013.

For further information please contact Leeds Library and Information Service

0113 2476016

Exhibition events

• Saturday 8th December 2- 4pm. Exhibition space, Central Library

Write like the Brontës in an afternoon! Create your own miniature books!

Come and join award-winning writer Char March for this fun and fast-paced writing workshop all about your secrets. Char will help you understand how and why the Brontë sisters wrote their tiny little books in miniature writing, and will give you masses of inspiration for writing your very own little book of secrets. which you can take away afterwards. Come for the full two-hours, or just drop by for 20 min’s. Families welcome – as well as all the adults out there dying to write in really really tiny writing! Part of the Writing Britain exhibition.

• Wednesday 12th December 6.30pm. Exhibition space, Central Library

Michael Stewart and Russ Litten author event hosted by James Nash. Part of Writing Britain and Read Regional.

James Nash will chair this event where we will explore writing that conveys a sense of place and the differences in settings between Scream If You Want To Go Faster by Russ Litten and King Crow by Michael Stewart. (Michael's book is set in Cumbria, while Russ's is set over a couple of streets in Hull).

• Monday 17th December 2-3.30pm. Exhibition space, Central Library

An afternoon with the Brontes
Join us for 'An afternoon with the Brontes' with Ann Dinsdale from the Bronte Society. Yorkshire tea and cakes also provided!

All events are free but please book a place by calling enquiry express on 0113 247 6016.

Notes to editors:

Writing Britain is a national project led by the British Library and generously funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. This two-year initiative will create a sustainable partnership with four city libraries: Newcastle City Library, Leeds Central Library, Norwich & Norfolk Millennium Library and Bristol Central Library. The project aims to engage young people aged 16 – 24, outside of formal education, with library and heritage collections. The project will include an exhibition in each of the venues, which will feature the collections of each region alongside British Library collection items, as well as five youth engagement projects.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is one of the larger independent grant-making foundations in the UK. It makes grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals to experience a full quality of life, both now and in the future. In particular it is concerned with children and young people, and others who are disadvantaged. It prefers to support work which others may find hard to fund, perhaps because it breaks new ground or is too risky. It also takes initiatives where new thinking is required or where it believes there are important unexplored opportunities.

Studio12 is a place to be creative, experiment with new technology, realise hidden talent, reach personal goals and explore professional avenues.

Studio12 is an audio visual media project for young people aged 16-30, providing free access to a production studio, training, accredited qualifications and an Industry Panel of creative professionals working in design, music, video and media arts. Studio12 is part of Leeds Library and Information Service and the project was delivered as part of the Studio12 master class programme, which engages young people with industry professionals working in film, music, and media arts. For more information

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 247 5472

Market feels festive spirit with new decorations

The Christmas spirit has arrived at Kirkgate Market as the lights have been switched on, new decorations hung and music is filling the halls.

Earlier in the year Leeds City Council gave a grant to the traders of £100,000 to spend on marketing and promotion at the market. The traders chose to order in new decorations and put the money towards a bus campaign marketing the attraction on the lead up to Christmas.

Along with putting up new decorations, some of the older decorations that were showing their age are being revamped and given festive flare by Passion4Fashion, a network of Housing Providers and Support Agencies in Leeds dedicated to tackling exclusion creatively through Art Fashion and Design.

There are plenty of festive activities going on at the market this year, including brass bands, musicians and visits from Santa. Each Saturday in December Santa will be at the market giving out presents and visiting his stepdaughter Sadie Claus as she sets up stall in the 1904 hall.

Along with Santa, every Saturday in December there will be reindeer on the open market and a bespoke Christmas play about Santa working at the market performed by children’s theatre company Alive & Kicking in the 1904 hall.

Councillor Gerry Harper, Leeds City Council markets champion said:

“The market looks really festive with the new decorations and music playing throughout the halls.

“There is plenty going on at the market on the lead up to Christmas, and it is an excellent place to source a true British Christmas dinner, with all the food you could possibly need.”

Sue from passion4fasion said:

“Lively passion4fashion volunteers Melody, Thiat, Thea and Toni loved their recent challenge to re-vamp some Christmas decorations for Leeds Market.

“The giant Christmas garlands to be hung up above the aisles needed a little TLC and an injection of colour and creativity! In true passion4fashion style, the girls re-cycled dusty old baubles donated from an attic or two and created lovely ribbon features from bargain cloth purchased from the market itself.

“This years colour scheme was red gold and green and for only a few pounds and some kind donations the girls were able to spruce up the decs beautifully!”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Leeds residents to have their say on future lettings policy

Leeds City Council’s lettings policy is due to be revised to deal with the impact of Welfare Reform and tenants and members of the public are being asked for their thoughts to the changes.

At a meeting of the council’s executive board on Wednesday 12 December, members will be asked to consider proposed changes to the council’s letting policy in light of the Localism Bill and Welfare Reform and to approve the start of a public consultation.

As part of the welfare reforms, the government is introducing Social Sector Size Criteria, which will see working age housing association and council tenants who are seen to be under occupying by one bedroom or more receive a shortfall in their housing benefit – equivalent to 14% of their eligible rent.

An estimated 7,000 Leeds council tenants will be affected by these changes, along with a further 1,300 housing association tenants. The Leeds ALMOs already have put in place a programme to visit all affected council tenants and have so far visited just over 65% of people with the majority of people expressing a preference to stay in their existing homes. The revised lettings policy will seek new ways to help affected tenants to remain in their current home where possible or support them to move to a smaller property.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“We want to ensure that all our tenants, voluntary sector housing organisations and the voluntary sector get the chance to have their say on how they think the lettings policy should look.

“There are a number of key points to consider in light of Welfare Reforms, and our priority remains our residents who we want to work with closely to ensure as little disruption as possible.

“The biggest challenge we face is the shortage of available homes for affected tenants to move to. Over 4800 tenants affected by welfare reform have a need for one bedroom accommodation, and therefore it could take over three years for us to re-house all tenants affected seen to be under occupying.”

For more information you can view the report going to executive board on

Notes to editors:

The council will look to maximise transfers of housing to address under occupancy through the ‘mutual exchange’ process whereby properties are swapped by a tenant who is in overcrowded and the other who is under occupying – which offers a quick and easy way to resolve the problem.

Other changes to the policy include the possibility of extending the period a priority is awarded for from 120 to 180 days, the introduction of a qualification criteria which will assist in streamlining the housing register and to put a focus on customers who are in housing need and without sufficient resources to make their own arrangements.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450