Did you know that there are no road signs in the whole of Leeds pointing to Gipton? Built in the 1930s as a ‘garden suburb’ to offer residents a better place to live, this part of Leeds is little known or understood by people outside the area, even Loiners.
The East Leeds Project, supported by Leeds 2023, wants to change that, to offer an opportunity for the communities based in the suburbs of Gipton and Harehills, Killingbeck and Seacroft, Cross Gates and Whinmoor, to come together in artistic exploration. The project plans to put East Leeds firmly on the map, as experienced through the lens of its resident cultural community which includes producers Kerry Harker and Claire Irving.
Over the past 18 months, Kerry and Claire have been building and strengthening local connections through a programme of research and development projects, the outcome of which will be disseminated in the autumn. An extensive, far-reaching joint research project has been carried out with Leeds’ architecture practice Bauman Lyons and the local community. Taking many forms, the project included holding events at Gipton Gala and East Leeds Makers social; community-led mapping; an online survey of ‘East Leeds Makers’ and site visits, e.g. to Knowle West in Bristol.
They have discovered that there is a rich seam of creativity in the local community and a desire to help shape its future. Many local people are producing and making fantastic work, but currently there is no dedicated creative ‘maker’ space where they can share and collaborate.
The East Leeds Project is building towards creating a physical hub, a Pavilion, designed and built by local people, using the pioneering MassBespokeTM system created by Bauman Lyons.
By 2023, the East Leeds Project wants the temporary Pavilion to be located next to Fearnville Leisure Centre in Gipton. This community space will be a social place; somewhere to learn and work together, to share skills and to learn new ones. A physical space in which to help build a sustainable future for creative practitioners in the area, currently working away in their sheds or around kitchen tables.
Academic research uncovered by the East Leeds team suggests that eastern sides of cities worldwide share characteristics as a result of the fact that pollution blows to the east, and many have been neglected or ignored. Each part of Leeds has its own distinctive sense of identity, with its own history and challenges, and it’s through supporting projects like this that we will help shine a light on the amazing creativity and talent in all our communities in the city.
To find out more, visit East Leeds Project