What untold cultural stories does Aireborough have to tell? A question posed by a Leeds 2023 art project called My World, My City, My Neighbourhood to all areas of the City earlier this year. The result was a deluge of ideas for community art projects designed to generate local creativity in the telling of unique stories: all leading to a big City wide display in Spring 2022 and then on into the 2023 year of culture.
One such application was made by textile artist and former primary school teacher Abigail James from Guiseley. Abi has been encouraging local residents to yarn bomb Guiseley with crochet during 2021 and working on the displays put on by Friends of Parkinson’s Park. Over the summer months Abi has put colourful ‘tops’ on to post boxes, and wild flower ‘upholstery’ on to public benches: she then encouraged others to join her and started classes under Daisy Croft Crafts in her Guiseley studio, to teach people how to crochet so that they too could join in.
The success of this public art initiative led to her application to Leeds 2023 My World, My City, My Neighbourhood, who picked her idea, as one of only 23 from the more than 1000 ideas they received. These commissioned works, led by artists with a personal association to the area concerned, range from ‘stories’ of the wool trade to a local allotment, a busy commuter road and even the city’s skateboarders.
Abi has called the Guiseley project Yarns Well Spun, and is basing the untold story it will tell on the Aireborough textile industry and who knows what else woven into it. The area at one time was known for its tweed fabric (and still has Moons) however, with the closure of most of the Mills, the textiles and a way of life has gone, to be replaced by ………………………..? Well what exactly? That is the story Abi want’s to uncover and build into a grand community art display for Spring 2022. Her ultimate ambition would be to use the project to help weave together longstanding residents with deep Guiseley roots and newcomers who have made their home on the old Mill sites. “I love that yarn is the thread starting to connect people again and look forward to planning community art installations that involve many different people ” she said.
The first step on the road for Yarns Well Spun, is a smaller public art project designed to raise interest, and recruit people to help design and make the final display. With Armistice Day approaching, together with the 100th anniversary of The Royal British Legion, Abi decided to get people to contribute to three linked Remembrance Art Installations at –
- Guiseley Town Cross
- Guiseley Wells Pocket Park
- Parkinson’s Park Natter Bench.
In total over 52 local people contributed 370 crochet squares and poppies to the displays and Abi is encouraging more people to join in the Yarns Well Spun for a Christmas display leading to a ‘grand’ untold stories display in Spring 2022 – she said “We have some fantastic plans for the future, so if you’d like to get involved then please don’t hesitate to contact me. Remember 22 of the team had NEVER crocheted 8 weeks ago!”You can contact Abi on 07728 673 988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
My World My City My Neighbourhood is supported by Arts Council England and Leeds Community Foundation. The purpose it to to celebrate culture from the many different viewpoints across the City of Leeds. You can find more on the other 23 commissioned art projects here.