The stillness of a pandemic night is unnerving having spent seventeen of my twenty years in Leeds ‘On The Corner’ of Tunstall and Dewsbury Road. Where once the sound of car engines being gunned at the junction, bowel juddering bass from others sat with engines idling outside the garage, arguing voices and loud conversations ruled the night-time atmosphere, more recently a strange silence has prevailed. I have learnt to sleep through most things to the point that quietness has become an unnatural phenomenon.
SLUNG LOW LS11 STREET GALLERY
Woop Woop (It’s tha sound of tha Police) . . . or not!
One noise that has been conspicuous by its absence is the sound of police cars. Walking around the area this aural observation seems to be borne out visually too. Rarely on my socially distanced wanders have I seen evidence of police patrolling the streets. I may be wrong, but it certainly feels like this is the case. What I have seen though, is an increased amount of pan handling on the stretch of road between Al Shafa Pharmacy and the Dewsbury Road Post Office, and a couple of violent episodes outside of Tesco and Aldi.
The episodes that I witnessed at the supermarkets were not particularly nasty, but there was a great deal of swearing and shouting and alarmingly, at a time of no contact, pushing and shoving from the perpetrators. The only people able to deal with these situations in each case were the security guards. I have a great deal of sympathy with them as it seems like they are dealing with a lot more than they are being paid for. Bearing in mind that this area has many Black and Asian security guards, the national statistics regarding the high number of deaths of low paid workers in the BAME community should come as no surprise.
My mind is drawn back to a recent time when I had to report to the police that, whilst walking my son in the pushchair early one Sunday morning through the streets of Beeston, we had been set upon by a pack of dogs running wild, ownerless and circling us aggressively. The response to my complaint had been an unconcerned ‘It’s that kind of area, you have to expect that kind of thing.’ Do we? Really? Why?
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
In terms of those begging for change the faces are familiar. They are faces that, during more normal times, would be taking an Arriva bus into the city first thing in the morning, and returning around 6pm in the evening. Some are housed nearby, others without doubt are sleeping rough. A piece of amenity ground adjacent to BasementArtsProject that will be familiar to readers of earlier posts of mine, has in the last few weeks become home to one of these characters. Although he was moved on by the council last week, he seems to have returned. Here I would echo the sentiments of @roseytints in her blog post on this subject.
Rather coincidentally, I recently finished reading Hubert Selby’s ‘Requiem For A Dream‘, which I would say is probably the most harrowing, yet enlightening, account of heroin addiction, documenting this pernicious drug’s effect on humanity and the eventual degradation of soul and the will to carry on in its victims. For those who may be interested and as context for the reference it is worth looking at Selby’s experience of life.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
The aforementioned amenity space has, since early 2019, been the focus of an ongoing project for BasementArtsProject. As part of our ‘On The Corner‘ project that tied in with the Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 and the Index Festival of Visual Art, we have been working with artist Keith Ackerman on the creation of a 7ft, 6.5tonne sculpture entitled ‘Jacob’s Ladder‘ which will stand on this piece of ground. Through art we intend to transform this overgrown, litter strewn, needle repository into an oasis at the heart of Dewsbury and Tunstall Road, a significant place for visitors to the city as they enter Leeds from Wakefield and The South.
COVID STOPS PLAY
As the onsite activity has come to a standstill here at BasementArtsProject due to the current pandemic situation, so too has the work on ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ at the quarry until such time as they are safe to open again.
LIGHT ON LEEDS
Another creative endeavour that has been going on here in South Leeds since April 2019 is the Light on Leeds podcasts. For anyone wanting to listen to some podcasts about Leeds related art, music, creativity, community, literature, environment, mermaids and much more, then this series of broadcasts will be right up your street. You can check them out at https://www.lightonleeds.com/episodes
BasementArtsProject | LOCKDOWN JOURNAL: Alan Dunn
March 2020, live updates from The sounds of ideas forming, Volume 2 (Instagram – @alandunn67), exploring the fragility and tangibility of vinyl sleeves in domestic settings. Recent instalments:
COVER (VERSIONS) – alandunn67.co.uk/coverversions.html
The sounds of ideas forming, Volume 2 – alandunn67.co.uk/sounds2text.html
And finally, another post from the online Lockdown Journal whilst we are unable to do real world events. This time by artist Dr Alan Dunn Senior Lecturer on Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University and regular contributor to the BasementArtsProject programme.
For a full selection of all Studio Journal / Lockdown Journal posts so far visit www.basementartsproject.com/studio-journal
I have blanked out the name of one of the artists (a very famous artist) in the title of Alan’s collage. There is a free BasementArtsProject book winging its way to the first person who sends the name of the artist along with their name and postal address to Bruce Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until we meet again stay safe
Bruce Davies | 7th June 2020