Yorkshire Life Aquatic Bramley pair celebrate LEEDS 2023 for 'helping to shine a light' on city's artists

Zoe Parker and Lucy Meredith, also known as Yorkshire Life Aquatic, were involved in the original proposals for Leeds’ bid to be European City of Culture which re-emerged as LEEDS 2023.

By Alex Grant
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 11:45 am

They were also featured in the recent short film released to mark One Year To Go to the city’s Year of Culture as they are delivering a project entitled ‘We Are Bramley, Acts of Defiance’ which is part of the LEEDS 2023 ‘My World, My City, My Neighbourhood’ series.

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LEEDS 2023 appeals to us as it’s about connecting people through culture; connecting Leeds with the rest of the UK, with Europe, with the rest of the world. At Yorkshire Life Aquatic, we’re all about connections too, but we’re looking slightly closer to home to create something that brings people together on our doorstep, in Bramley, and across Leeds too.

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Yorkshire Life Aquatic started life at Bramley Baths back in 2013. Picture: Lizzie Coombes.

Yorkshire Life Aquatic started life at Bramley Baths back in 2013 after some pilot synchronised swimming classes we did really took off and we haven’t looked back since, holding classes, doing live performances and delivering creative projects in the space.

In short, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the team at the beautiful baths who have continuously supported our ideas. We wanted to be part of the ‘My World, My City, My Neighbourhood’ series because that’s all about supporting projects in local communities and we think the world of Bramley.

The people of Bramley are really invested in their neighbourhood. Over the last decade Bramley has a made headlines through positive acts of defiance by its community – whether that was campaigning against plans to close the Baths, or the more recent ‘A Place to sit’ campaign which has successfully campaigned for public seating to be returned to the local shopping centre.

We have worked with local organisations in the Bramley community for years and wanted to create an opportunity for local people to develop with us ideas for a cultural experience that reflects the area. Bramley is spread out over quite a large area, so it’s been important for us to engage with as many people as possible across the neighbourhood.

To do this, we’ve hosted meetings on Zoom and, when possible, in person, to gather ideas and themes that those living here want to build on for 2023.

Trails in the area were already something the community were interested in creating so we started talking about developing a walk. We would be able to highlight the places of interest in Bramley and also the local legends, the characters that have loomed large to residents including the teacher who became a well-known suffragette, Mary Gawthorpe, and where Ernie Wise could call his first home.

We’re planning some ‘walk and wander’ events where we can start to map out an interesting route, totally led by the community, and we’re looking forward to meandering the streets and parks to find a way to represent the real Bramley to others.

LEEDS 2023 is helping all of us to look again and appreciate what’s in our community. There are a lot of artists who live in Bramley but that work elsewhere and projects like those in the ‘My World, My City, My Neighbourhood’ series are helping to shine a light on and celebrate what’s going on in the next street; things you might never otherwise notice.

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