Map 5

Unexpected Angles – Belle Vue Road and Great George Street

Places of importance, the broad outlines of the streets and alleyways, green spaces, waterways and railway lines. Those are the kinds of things that we generally feel a map should record – but what about the other things; the things that the map doesn’t show?

Whenever one walks anywhere, there are always things to see and hear, to smell, to feel and perhaps even to taste. Little details lurking in the cracks in the pavement; signs we have seen a thousand times before, but never really read; sounds that hover on the edges of our consciousness, but which fail to make it past the bass and treble of the iPod; bright colours on faded hoardings; familiar faces belonging to unknown people.

It is easy to filter out these little details. Very often there are other things to think about when we walk from place to place; deadlines, relationships, what to have for dinner – the essential trivialities of everyday life. As we walk, the contours of the world without are overwritten by those of the internal world – the mountains and molehills, chasms and gulfs that exist between us and the people around us.

None of these appear on the maps either – but they will always be there, and perhaps they deserve to be shown as well.

In Winter 2014 we worked with Artlink West Yorkshire, an arts and health charity that believes in the power of the arts to promote and nurture mental wellbeing. We also worked with Inspire Arts Group which is open to adults experiencing some form of mental distress in the Leeds area. We looked closely at two specific parts of the city – Belle Vue Road and Great George Street. The two roads almost run into each other. Belle Vue Road starts at Hyde Park and runs down towards the city centre ending near the back of Park Lane College. Great George Street begins not far away, on the other side of Hanover Square. It runs behind the Town Hall and the Central Library and finishes at Merrion Street in the heart of the city.

As part of this work, we’ve been looking closely at two specific parts of the city – Belle Vue Road and Great George Street. The two roads almost run into each other. Belle View Road starts at Hyde Park and runs down towards the city centre, ending near the back of Park Lane College. Great George Street begins not far away, on the other side of Hanover Square. It runs behind the Town Hall and the Central Library and finishes at Merrion Street in the heart of the city.

Together with the members of each of the groups, we mapped our journeys up and down these streets – journeys both internal and external – logging the details, hidden and otherwise in poetry, prose and pictures. Some of the work produced is featured below.

Arts and Minds on Belle Vue Road

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Inspire Arts Group on Great George Street

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28) 28th January
There is a pair of underpants in the tree beside the park. They flutter in the breeze – all clean and white and full of promises.

Unexpected Angles - Belle Vue Road

Words and images by the members of Studio Three at Artlink West Yorkshire

Street Pigeon

Cracks running wild on this concrete footbridge
Under a winter’s grip that does not give

Cracks in the walls of the deep red façade
Like inky veins, seeping above so far

Cracks in his hands, he shares this bridge with me,
With whispered words, he soothes me tenderly

Cracks in the air from the passing ladies’ soles
And the traffic below that moans and rolls

Cracks of sunlight seep from grey scattered skies
Stir the mood of the street as shadows glide

Cracks up the dome-topped building, I could rest,
Before the gift of flight, with time, has left

Cracks in the waves of people slipping past
At the end of the day, their smiles don’t last

Cracks more and more as this place grows ancient
Cracks spreading fast in their tolerance and patience

Cracks in my thoughts as darkness steals the dusk
Then fathomless night descends as it must

HS – Inspire Arts Group

Great George Street 001

The Olde Boy – The Craft

He was as if a living memento of yesterday – the Master Tailor of Great George Street, who passed on over the festive period of Christmas 2013/2014.

He’d given me his card on first meeting when I’d happened to drop by once. A friendly voice with a sing-song lilt, crafted in a previous decade; the archetypal manner of a master in the tailoring guild; a translation of a shop-keeper: John Hurt or the likes from Harry Potter’s buying adventures in Diagon Alley – the Hogwarts story where Harry finds his first wand, tailored to his particular personality.

This is part of the craft of the Master at work; assessing the customer, listening to his questions and suggesting the solutions with a sympathetic eye and a discerning eye on the cost.

“There’s nothing more pleasant than extracting money by legitimate means from the customers in town when looking for quality at an affordable price.”

A nice pair of shoes caught my eye one day whilst glancing at the window display – 50% off, “Xmas Special” – the attached card proclaimed. So I asked to try them on to see if they fitted.

As it turned out, they fitted as a hand might do in kid gloves – comfortable, relaxed and nicely “crafted,” – a by-word for top-end British tailoring; worth every penny for the support alone in the changeable weather that life in Britain guarantees.

I’d treated myself on spec and was saddened when I noticed a sign on the door two weeks later announcing the proprietor had died and his funeral was to take place shortly. How quickly the scenery can change in a busy city street. It reminded me of a track by The Kinks called the something-or-other Man of Fashion – they seek him here, they seek him there.

This is often how I lead or guide myself through the ever changing shop-fronts, proffering different very special offers. Oh what fun when you can enjoy the sun, have a little money to spare and the chance of snapping up a bargain that you wouldn’t find uphill or down dale or for that matter in the middle of a sodden field.

GG – Inspire Arts Group



The ghost of a woman,
Glimpsed amongst the branches,
In the window of the empty shop.

The sunlight fills the room with forest –
Winter branches on the white walls –
As though the natural world has reclaimed the building.

Inside, the old light fitting squats on the floor,
Like a fallen sun.

MB – Inspire Arts Group


A Journey to Great George Street

It was dark. Very dark. A pit. A hole, and I was at the bottom. How I got there I don’t remember. Perhaps it had been a gradual slide. Perhaps I had taken a step too far off a precipice. But however it had happened, there I was.  Surrounded by blackness, no glimmer of light to be seen. So I curled up and hid in the darkness.

I was aware of hands and arms reaching down towards me, offering love, support, refuge. But I wasn’t ready to receive them. I turned my back on them and basked in my numbness.
After a time I roused myself and reached out, touching walls and floor. I turned around and found – nothing. So I curled up again and turned inwards.

Then one day I turned, and there, high above me was a glimmer of light. Unreachable now, but a promise to be treasured and nurtured.

Gradually I shed my protective shell. Those loving arms reached out to me, lifting me, calming me, soothing me, guiding me. I leaned heavily on them to begin with, letting them direct my actions as I still wasn’t able to help myself.

I rose up the sides of the pit slowly over a period of months. It was by no means a smooth journey; those caring hands wearied and needed frequent rests. Progress stood still. I often rejected their help wanting to race ahead of myself. Sometimes I slipped, but they never let me fall.

And slowly, oh so slowly, I reached the top of the pit, and rested on the uncertain ground, looking at the bleak empty horizon of my future.

Tentative steps back to work over rocky ground and unfeeling attitudes. Teaching is all or nothing I was told again and again until once again I crashed, falling back into my deep pit, turning and tumbling, reaching the bottom with a crash! Once again my world was upside down.

And so the journey started again, but this time I had an idea of what to expect, how hard it could be and how long it would take. And this time I had the added benefit of a path smoothed by a wonderful employment specialist who held my hand and took me to Inspire and Ali, Barney and Kate. They, in their turn, led me into the winding paths of the world of art and creativity which I have followed from Belle Vue Road, Trinity Church, Malham House, Hyde Terrace and Kirkgate Market to Space and Great George Street. And here I pause a little on my journey as I watch the scenery and take in the sights.

HL – Inspire Art Group


What We Carry

I stand beside a parking meter on Great George Street, opposite to “Space’s” doorway having a smoke break from a group that I attend, and watch the hierarchic parade of this so called classless society, pass by.  Most of the types trot, slouch, saunter and stride along this street. Executives, nurses, students, hustlers, hung-over drunks, the self-satisfied and the hopeless, yeah, they are all there.

A well-dressed executive trots by, clutching his bulging attaché case in one hand – his other hand taming his flapping three-quarter raincoat in his breeze.

‘I’ve plenty of time,’ he mutters glancing at his watch and slowing down slightly.

He frowns, starts hurrying … ‘Wonder what gripe Al’ll have today?  Always has something to argue about, but I’ve had it before, I can cope … I think …?

‘I bet it’ll be about the new installations…but I’ve got all the figures here – and they make sense, he can’t make much of an issue about that …?  No, I’ve got him there …’

He trots along, contented again; he hesitates, feels in his pocket, checks his fountain pen …

‘Yeah, full…’

Glances at his watch and trots a bit faster.  He stops abruptly, apologises to a youth behind him and brings out his wallet, flips through the notes and then searches for a business card, he finds the one he wants, sighs and replaces his wallet in his jacket’s inside pocket.  He walks along more relaxed now, then frowns, glances again at his watch and hurries again.

His mobile rings.  Struggling with his flapping raincoat, he drops his brief case, ‘Damn…’ he mutters, and gets his phone from his pocket; looks at it; decides it’s not important, shoves it hurriedly into his pocket and fairly runs into the entrance of an office complex.

BF – Inspire Arts Group


Some Other Tuesday

It is ten past two. In this country, England, within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this is how we tell the time. To tell: to speak, to say, to impart. But the verb also means ‘to know’.  This is how we know the time, more how we understand it.

In a photograph, the gold hands of the blue clock face on St Georges’ Church stand together, for this brief moment, catching the early Spring sunshine. The next time in this diurnal round that they meet together on the Roman II, they will perhaps glint in the light of a street lamp.

We tell the same time twice a day, at ante and post meridian. As we contemplate this image of the spire rising into the deep blue sky, we know the time. The clock tells us that on some other Tuesday in the past we were standing at the gates of Church grounds, necks craned upwards, at ten past two, the moment marked by the click of the shutter.

Not 14.10 as our continental European cousins would have it, but ten minutes past the hour of two of the clock.

On that Tuesday, we were not concerned with catching trains, or logging the time of an email or attending an official appointment or any of the other things regulated by the digital moment, but standing still, catching the very moment that ten past two became eleven minutes past the hour of two of the clock.

AA – Inspire Arts Group

Central Leeds

Map 5 News

Published on 03/05/2014

Unexpected Angles - Belle Vue Road

Published on 18/04/2014

Some Other Tuesday

Published on 18/04/2014

What We Carry

Published on 08/04/2014

A Journey to Great George Street

Published on 03/04/2014



secret fossils