Steel selves and stealing time for yourself in community

I never dreamed I would see my name in steel. Who does? But that is what has happened. My name forms part of the civic Ribbons Sculpture alongside those of some incredible Leeds women from history to the present. Created by sculptor Pippa Hale and commissioned by Leeds Arts University and Leeds City Council, the work will be permanently on show outside the Leeds Playhouse.

I have no idea who nominated me in recognition of my work in the city (if you’re reading this – thank you!). But, ever since hearing the news, I have been wrestling with feelings of unworthiness. There are many fire-starting Leeds women who are named on the sculpture (list here), and many who are not – Alice Cliff Scatcherd being one. I realise omissions are inevitable. After all, how could the sculpture reference all inspirational Leeds women? But I am chuffed to see the women of the city honoured, and to be one of those included. From the preview photos I have seen, Pippa Hale has done a brilliant job.

Photograph of Pippa Hale’s Ribbons Sculpture by Jules Lister

Meanwhile, I am learning to dance wholly freelance again after leaving my role at the Lifelong Learning Centre in January. The local scene looks quite different to pre-Covid when I was last actively seeking creative work. Literature and the arts in Yorkshire are vibrant with new talent and I am excited to see artists who have ‘done their time’ evolving their practice in novel ways.

Speaking of new talent, next week will see the anthology launch of the Bradford school I have been writer in residence at for First Story. I am looking forward to the facial expressions of the writers when they see their words published for the first time. First Story always treats its young writers’ work in a professional manner and this book is a testament to their imaginations, perspectives, and the writing skills they are developing. May that continue long into the future.

You may remember from my last blog that I was also looking forward to writing and some rest. There has not been anywhere near as much of the second as I would have liked due to an unexpected influx of caring responsibilities. But I have made respectable progress on a full-length writing project, which marks a new direction for my work! Sorry for the vagueblogging but I promise that more will be revealed in time.

Rest has been key to Lying Fallow, a research project I have been working on with theatre artist Liza Cox over the last year. Funded by a collaborative research grant from UNION Leeds and provoked by the ideas of Psychoanalyst Masud Khan, we investigated how actively reducing our productivity and making space for ‘fallow time’ impacted on our creativity. You can read the outline of our aims and what we found at Union Arts.

I am excited by the possibilities for creativity and connectedness of taking fallow time and will be offering opportunities to explore ideas of fallowness with me in the coming months. I’ll leave you now with the first of these and news of some other activities you can connect with if you wish.

Upcoming Opportunities

Fallow at the Farm – a nourishing day retreat to revitalise your creativity

Writers and artists of all kinds know that finding a place of stillness from which to create is important. But it is hard to find mental and physical space for this in our busy lives. Fallow at the Farm is that space.

Photograph of farm where Fallow at the Farm will be held.

Open to anyone who likes to be creative.

Venue: Farm on Otley Chevin.

Date: Saturday 7th September

Time: 11-4 pm

Booking link.

Cost: £30/ two free places to people on low incomes donated by the farm owner. See booking link for details.

Rave against racism

Venue: Beaverworks

Date: Saturday 13th July

Time: 2pm-2am – I expect that my 15-minute set will take place during the afternoon.

Cost: £10

This gig is a fundraiser for Medical Aid Palestine and will feature a feast of poets and musicians. It would be great to see you there.


Rave Against Racism poster

Please note that the Ribbons sculpture launch has been postponed until the autumn due to unforeseen circumstances.

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