Resurrection of the squashed seedlings


There’s no polite way to say this, Socks Akers has a fat backside. Six kilos of cat nearly put paid to my part in creating a living, breathing, flowering, fruiting art installation.

I’d agreed to foster 60 seedlings, destined to join 2,440 others in a stunning art installation at Left Bank, Leeds. It was a simple task, plant bean, beetroot, sweetcorn and sunflower seeds in little peat pots and keep them safe for a couple of weeks, water them, watch them grow and return them to their pals. They were very happy in the greenhouse, then the great hunk of black and white fur decided he needed a new place to sleep.

So an emergency trip to the shops later and I was re-potting the pots and giving Socks the evil eye. The seedlings were safe, a little wonky maybe, but most art is a bit wonky, except Mondrian, no wonkiness there.

The 2,500 seedlings were placed in a huge circle in the middle of the huge former church, where they have become Anastasis, an immersive installation representing life and resurrection, somewhere to sit, walk, reflect, enjoy, listen, yes listen, there’s even birdsong. It’s rather lovely.

The seedlings continue to grow in their circle, unimpeded by cats. At the end of the week. Earth Day, the circle will be broken and they will all be offered new homes. I’ll be taking a few, they’ll have pride of place in the allotment.



Let the children sing!

Gary Barlow would be proud as we Sing!

Gary Barlow would be proud as we Sing!

Wear red, we were asked, it’s the colour of their school uniform. Not much of a stretch for yours truly, whose wardrobe radiates the entire spectrum from orange to red, the only problem was, which red garment to choose!

The special Red Occasion was a joint singathon with children from St Mathias School, which is just down the road from where our choir rehearses and performs. We love to sing, especially in the flattering acoustics of the former church now known as Left Bank. And we all know that children love to sing!

We’d rehearsed separately, so when it came to performing together, well, it was anyone’s guess what would happen. As Eric said, we may sing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order.

Fortunately for all concerned, especially the parents who’d turned up to hear the children and the grown-ups sing Gary Barlow’s Sing, we hit most of the notes in more or less the same order. It was glorious! And then? Well, we had cake of course!

Our sweet angelic voices…

The Left Bank Vocal Collective. Available for bookings, just don't ask us to bring a keyboard!

The Left Bank Vocal Collective. Available for bookings, just don’t ask us to bring a keyboard!

Visitors to the LS6 Beer Festival clink clink clinking their glasses were surprised to hear the BOOM BOOM BOOM of the modern music gramophone replaced by sweet angelic voices. Mine was one of those voices, though ‘sweet’ and ‘angelic’ have never applied under any circumstances. But I don’t think anyone noticed.

For the past year or so, I’ve been part of the Left Bank Vocal Collective which meets in the converted Victorian Gothic masterpiece that was the St Mary of Antioch Anglican church in Leeds. We call ourselves Vocal Collective, rather than ‘choir’ because the latter implies some degree of decorum and order, maybe even a bit of musical knowledge and the ability to recognise notes on staves.Now I’m not saying we aren’t any of those, we just don’t want to be reported to Trading Standards.

We sing most of our music a capella, which means without music, mainly because no-one can properly play the keyboard and also because the acoustics of the old church are absolutely stunning, so we’re not about to spoil that with a synthesiser and electronic plinkety plinketies.

This is our third gig, we perform what I would call ‘world’ music. These are songs and rounds sung in languages we don’t understand and include a potato-picking ditty from the Baltic, a native Australian lullaby and a little trill from Korea. Our choir mistress has the idea of getting us around the world in 80 songs, we definitely have some way to go, but it’s a fantastic journey of discovery!

Coloured collars for the columns

Column collar under construction

Column collar under construction

Where has all the colour gone? I thought this as I walked into the office the other day to be met by a wave of black. Black jackets, black skirts, black trousers, black blouses, black scarves and black looks as it became clear I hadn’t just thought it, I’d said it, possibly screamed it.

I was in my usual red and orange combination, and that was just my hair. Why are people so reluctant to embrace colour? I suppose I’m biased, I spent a few years as a colour and image consultant so delighted in helping people to cast off the blacks and greys and find the shade of red that suited them.

In my book, there should be more colour everywhere, especially to brighten up our dull British winters, and especially in dark buildings. I’ve spend quite a bit of time at the very impressive Left Bank centre here in Leeds.  It’s a former church, turned arts and music venue. Fabulous space, wonderful acoustics but attractive though the Yorkshire stone is, rather dark and most definitely colourless. It’s also very very cold in there.

Left Bank is huge, its vaulted ceilings supported by massive columns, so I thought what better way to bring a bit of colour and warm the place up than knit collars for the columns?  It will be a garter stitch sensation, a moss stitch magnificence, a knit one, purl one art installation radiating colour and warmth.

So I’ve enlisted the help of my friends in the Calverley Knitwits who are knitting squares which I’m sewing together to make as many collars as I can. That’s the deal, they knit, I sew. I’m also accepting knitted squares from anyone else prepared to put yarn to needle. With each column 370cm in circumference, that’s a lot of 15cm squares, but they can stretch a bit, hopefully a lot.

We’ll keep on knitting and sewing until winter, bringing a splash of colour and, as the collars are taken down and made into blankets, some extra warmth.