What do you need to get from point A to point B in the city where you live? A map? What sort of map? The one you carry in your head because the routes you take on a daily basis are so familiar you travel on automatic pilot? What if you’re going somewhere new? Do you have an up to date A-Z in the house? Do you look on line and enter the postcode of the place you hope to go to? Or do you just get on a bus and hope for the best?

What if you’re a visitor to the city? How do you find your way around? What if you have arrived here from a country far away, where the maps you are familiar with look very different to begin with? The maps available in the Tourist Office show the shopping centres, the waterfront, the Owl Trail, the Blue Plaques, the restaurants. What if you need to find somewhere to sleep that night – what sort of map is going to help you then?

There are many things we take for granted about the place we live in – and what is familiar to one person may be surprising to someone else. 365 Stories Leeds is a way of sharing our experience of the city in a creative and informal way.

Matthew Bellwood and Alison Andrews are working together with a range of people who live, work or seek residence in Leeds on the creation of a series of maps of the city. These maps may be sung, expressed in textiles, written in stories, floated down the river or rendered as conventional cartographic representations, albeit with a twist.

We are hoping to find out about

  • The routes that people take through the city
  • Places where people feel comfortable and happy
  • ‘Wild places’, where there may be unrealised potential for new ways of living
  • The places, people, stories and events that people feel define the city in the eyes of the world
  • The places, people, stories and events that people feel have defined their own lives in Leeds.

In carrying out the project, we have worked with a wide variety of partner organisations around the city – including pubs, libraries, schools, charities, museums and community centres. We’ve also collaborated with a range of local artists – a composer, a choreographer, a graphic artist, a shadow puppeteer, a scenographer, a textile artist and many more.

We’ve been fortunate to encounter so many talented and generous people who have given their time to be part of 365LeedsStories and who have been willing to share their ideas, memories, thoughts, and creativity with us. Through working together we hope we have gained a better understanding of the city in which we live and the multiple and variable versions of Leeds that exist in the minds of the people who live here.

‘…maps will also be sung, chanted, stitched and woven, told in stories, and danced across fire-lit skies.’

Doug Aberley in Boundaries of Home – Mapping for Local Empowerment

365 Leeds Stories originated as a storytelling project on the social media outlet, Twitter. Over the course of a year, Matthew Bellwood set himself the challenge of writing a tiny story about the city everyday. This account and cache of stories still exists @365LeedsStories. The material found there has been used as a starting point for several strands of the 365 Leeds Stories project.

secret fossils