Listen up! Statues in Leeds start talking to the public in new project

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ICONIC Statues in Leeds will start talking to members of the public as part of a new project that aims to bring the city’s history to life.

‘Talking Statues’ launches this week and sees famous faces put their voices to some of the most well-known city statues.

Poet Khadijah Ibrahiim, who voices Leeds Civic Halls Golden Owl, at City Square. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Poet Khadijah Ibrahiim, who voices Leeds Civic Halls Golden Owl, at City Square. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Brian Blessed, Vic Reeves and Games of Thrones star Gemma Whelan are just some of the names that have recorded voice-overs for statues such as the Drury Dame at City Square and the large stone lions outside Leeds Town Hall.

Passersby can hear the stories by scanning their phones on specially-installed plaques.

Gemma, who plays Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, said: “I’m from Leeds and I know City Square very well.

“To be given the opportunity to voice one of the dames was a dream project.

The Drury Dame statue at City Square.

The Drury Dame statue at City Square.

“I have a bit of the inner dame myself!”

Radio presenter and writer Ian McMillan, who voices the Petanque Player at Bond Court, said: “I’m always wanting to explore new ideas of getting language performed in places you don’t expect it, and you certainly don’t expect statues to start telling you a story!

“As a child I had a fantasy that statues were just dying to tell you their stories, and now I can make that dream into a reality! And where better to do it than Yorkshire!”

The project, supported by the West Yorkshire Playhouse, is part of the Yorkshire Festival, which kicks off this week.

Gilly Roche, associate producer at the playhouse, said: “It is crucial to us to find and tell stories that are about the city we live in and to allow these stories to be heard by as wide and diverse an audience as possible.

“For this reason, Talking Statues Leeds is a perfect project for us to champion.”

There are still three more statues – The Talbot Hound, John Harrison and Equus Altus – that are waiting to have their stories told.

The writing competition is open now.

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