Placed firmly in the heart of Cardigan Road, between the rows of terraced houses and the merchants yard across the street, stands a huge, sprawling church, many will have grown accustomed to over the years. Like myself, most will have likely begun to ignore the building, but this would be a mistake. Here stands ‘Left Bank Leeds’, one of the most ambitious and exciting art and culture venues to emerge in Leeds over the past seven years. Consecrated in the early 20th Century, the former Church, left redundant and abandoned in the late 90s, has been restored and cultivated, with the owners careful to maintain and respect the buildings history and iconography.
Running from the 14th to the 16th of July, Left Bank is playing host to its latest exhibition, ‘Space & Place’. Curated by Leo Rotaru, the exhibition draws together the work of 20 artists, each presenting under the unifying theme of the title, and providing their own individual takes on their ideas of spaces and places. Through the use of sculpture, photography, installations, sound and video, the artists observe and question public and private spaces, how they are used, and analyse the different perceptions applied to them through ideas of gender, identity and community.
Upon entrance to the venue, the first thing to note is the large, expansive space and the spatial distance between each of the artists individual projects. The Gothic interior is striking, and is still heavily intact. The huge room creates an instant sense of isolation, as does the separation between the works. It brings to mind ideas about personal space, each piece respectful of its own standing and place in relation to the others. The former church is interesting for raising symbolism of faith and spirituality, as a church is a place of contemplation and reflection of ones life and choices. Ben Lewis’ sound piece, ‘Room #1’, plays on repeat, again linking to thoughts of isolation in a place. The sound acts as an inner monologue, and is reminiscent of the thoughts a person may have when completely alone in their personal space.
The huge space of the venue attributes itself to the work of the artists again, with one example being the piece by Lindsay Hayre, named ‘Thorpe Towers’. With the use of photography, Hayre stacks 15 images of empty living rooms within a Hull tower block. She raises questions of identity, through the owner of each living room marking their space with their own fingerprint, rejecting the monotonous repetition of their surroundings. The repetition encourages familiarity and group consensus, but clips the owners from differentiating from each other. With the images showing empty rooms, you are still able to see personal identity through the choice of flooring, curtains and wallpaper. It allows the cultivation of a place that is yours, something no-one can remove from you and something for the owner to feel at peace with.
The exhibition is a must see and great addition to the already bustling Hyde Park area. Left Bank Leeds has proven itself to be an exciting venue, removing itself from the ordinary and providing great artists with projects such as Space and Place.