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  • Writer's pictureGillian Holding

Left Bank Residency: Day 1

hidden passages

Ten days to make art in response to one of the most extraordinary spaces in Leeds. Ten days to inhabit a freezing Gothic interior, kneeling on stone floors watching the light change constantly as the hours move inexorably towards the hanging and installation deadline at the end of next week.

For someone addicted to encounters with the unexpected in the urban environment, Left Bank Leeds is way up near the top of the list of attractions. The mundane stolid ugliness of the exterior is redeemed not so much by the way this massive building paradoxically manages to hide itself from most passers by on Cardigan Road, but by the breathtaking spacious interior.

I had no specific plans when I arrived yesterday morning. There’s a lonely stained glass window of concentrated colour which had caught my eye and given me some ideas, but otherwise I planned to do a Georges Perec and sit and absorb the place until I could no longer see what I was looking at and the new familiar became unfamiliar.

Day 1 was to be a day of thought, reflection, drawing and exploration of hidden passageways and balconies. I felt only excited anticipation at the prospect: An important part of the process but zero pressure to achieve results.

writing and sketching

It was slightly disconcerting to find myself drawing gothic arches (the hardest things to draw in the world) since painting architectural forms is my least favourite activity. But maybe that was a Good Thing. On the other hand, when a local community choir arrived in the evening, I became far too close to my comfort zone of urban sketching.

sketching the choir

Finally I left the building with a mass of images and ideas clamouring for attention. And suddenly the excitement of the challenge and a novel environment is replaced by a nervous realisation that the work must appear. There is no place to hide, and no matter how many ideas are circling the periphery of my mind, at some point, very very soon, I have to work to crystallise them.

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