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OverWorlds & UnderWorlds - artists and performers prepare to transform the city streets of Leeds into a 3 day festival of public art in May 2012


Leeds is preparing for an unrivalled celebration of free public art in May 2012, involving everything from grassroots communities to large-scale ambitious installations and performances that will transform the streets of the busy Northern city into a living stage-set for three days.

One of 12 Artists Taking the Lead commissions established by the UK Arts Councils for the Cultural Olympiad in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, internationally acclaimed artist filmmakers, The Quay Brothers, will bring their mysterious, darkly beautiful & ethereal ideas to some of Leeds’ most impressive public spaces.

OverWorlds & UnderWorlds will involve live performance and installations to create a large-scale public event involving music, dance, theatre, film and light. Rivalling the scale, complexity & ambition of a major feature film, it goes on location in the centre of Leeds from 18-20 May 2012 where the event will be staged for free, for one weekend only.

Lead artists working with The Quay Brothers to produce OverWorlds & UnderWorlds:

• Gavin Bryars: Musician & Composer 

• Mic Pool: Sound Designer

• Daniel de Andrade: Choreographer

• Gary Clarke: Dancer & Choreographer

• Blake Morrison: Librettist, playwright & writer 

• Charlotte Vincent: Dancer & Choreographer

• Douglas Thorpe: Choreographer 

The weekend of free public performances and installations, which will be shrouded in secrecy until May 2012, begins on Briggate, a pedestrian street that runs through the heart of the city. It will also involve impressive landmarks and sites around the city centre including the subterranean Dark Arches, a complex of tunnels that spread beneath Leeds Train Station, and bridge the River Aire.

The ambitious idea is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between 8 of the city’s major arts organisations; Northern Ballet, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opera North, Yorkshire Dance, Phoenix Dance, Leeds Museums & Galleries, Leeds Met Gallery & Studio Theatre and Leeds Art Gallery, who are pooling their creative & administrative resources.  As a result, Leeds Canvas has been able to invite high profile artists working nationally and internationally to respond to the rare challenge of creating an artistic event of this scale entirely in public spaces and in direct response to the city itself, which lies 63m above sea level, and is home to 715,402 people.

A major education programme has already begun, enabling young people and communities to be integral to the creative work as performers and participants. The ambitious project builds on the ethos of the Olympic Games. By adopting the ideals of collaboration, co-operation and excellence, Leeds Canvas aims to make high quality creative work available to anyone, for free. @OW_UW

Photo: The Quay Brothers at the Dark Arches, Leeds. Photography: Tom Arber

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