Crown Point Bridge to feature in Compass arts festival

Compass Festival returns to South Leeds next month with one of the key artworks located at Crown Point Bridge in Hunslet.

This is the arts festival’s fifth edition. In past years Compass Festival has come to South Leeds with Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters’s spiralling walk around Holbeck and the Measures Of Us project with asked residents five daily questions and displayed the results on giant boards.

The Ballad of Crown Point Bridge is a sonic artwork by artist Amy Sharrocks and sound designer Tom Hackley exploring the people and water of Leeds. Crown Point Bridge is where the water of the River Aire and its wildlife meet the canalised city water and where on the dark underside of the bridge, the reactions to the assault of city life are graphically vocalised in spray paint.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest line of concrete enclosure of UK water. Depending on your view, the shoreline of this canal could be seen as a perilous carving out, an incredible engineering feat or a vast act of partition and control, enabling the extraction of natural resources.

Working with groups from the Leeds community including charities, swimmers, young people and graffiti artists and remembering those who made the underside of the bridge their home, Amy Sharrocks will gather personal stories and recollections of the bridge and of water. These words will be channelled back to us as we walk through the underside of the bridge. Between their words and the water, perhaps we can negotiate a different social contract between the people, the city and the water.

Since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, Compass has been working closely with artists fully supporting them as they progress and adapt their commissions to meet the challenge of staging work during the coronavirus pandemic. The festival is spreading its activities throughout 2021 allowing audiences to experience them as intended where possible.

Projects will take place in a range of covid safe settings including a bridge beside a canal, a shopping arcade, an indoor market, a purpose built space and the city’s streets themselves. Taking you on a journey around Leeds, the festival largely takes place outside and can be explored alone, in small groups or from home.

Festival co-director Annie Lloyd said:

“Now more than ever we are indebted to the imagination of artists as they bring joy and remind us of our common humanity. This programme features work from a range of artists working in various mediums from the digital sphere to interacting with the natural environment. Through these works, the artists celebrate the power of community, our resilience and adaptability. We are delighted to offer this invitation to experience each of these projects which we hope will allow audiences to be playful and creative in everyday public spaces once more.

“Adaptability has become important, not just for Compass as a festival, but for the world at large. In light of the changing circumstances, the festival will look a little different in 2021. In March, we’ll welcome you to the festival opener Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) as well as an engaging series of podcasts to enjoy at home.

“As we go forward into 2021, we’ll announce further details of the works taking place then, meaning you won’t have to cram your Compass fix into the usual 10 days. Works will take place across Leeds city centre, many of which can be explored alone or in your bubble. Join us from March onwards as we, as a community, begin to safely gather together again after such a long time apart.”

The interactive festival offers six thought provoking, moving and playful projects staged from 19 March and throughout 2021:

  • Anxiety Arcade, a full-sized arcade machine which will be located in Leeds city centre. The project, by Closed Forum, is a love letter to 80s pop culture and classic video games.
  • One in, One out: Leeds’s Smallest Gay Bar is a playful interactive installation exploring the role of the gay bar in contemporary queer culture created by artist Lucy Hayhoe.
  • Joshua Sofaer has re-fashioned and created artefacts from 14 Leeds collectors for Museums in People’s Homes. These artefacts will be housed within a portable museum complete with a tiny gift shop and cafe.
  • Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) is both a national project to make all the 34,000 public phone boxes in the UK ring at the same time and a regional project in Leeds as part of Compass Festival. The Leeds project will see phones across the city ring at 11am daily.
  • Modelled on the dimensions of the unique fermenting vessel made famous by Tetley’s Brewery, Public House – The Yorkshire Square will be a four-sided fully operational pop-up pub in Leeds Kirkgate market. Created by Etheridge and Persighetti (Small Acts), the project investigates the enduring role of pubs as places of community, intergenerational exchange, entertainment, (hi)story-telling and activism.

As a further response to the changing restrictions, Compass Festival are introducing a new strand which will allow those not ready to venture into public spaces to continue to enjoy aspects of the festival. A series of four podcasts aligning with the themes and concerns of the festival projects, delivered by festival artists and local practitioners/experts. Subjects of focus include How to become better listeners, the future of queer spaces, mental health, rest and artistic endeavour and the taste of Leeds – creating a condiment with and for the city.


This post is based on a press release issued on behalf of Compass Festival