Tuesday, 28 September 2010

What is Light Night Leeds?

There's been a bit of talk on Twitter from people who don't know what Light Night Leeds is; and as there are people coming from outside Leeds who are a bit in the dark (excuse the pun!) as well, I thought I'd give a bit of an overview.

Firstly, I can't really tell you what Light Night is. Not because it's a secret, but because it changes year on year. So I'd only really be able to tell you about this year's event after it had happened. That's a lovely thing about the Leeds Light Night, as it is so heavily driven by the people who take part.

Light Night Leeds is based on the Nuit Blanche event. It is now in its sixth year, and there are currently 11 cities in the UK who have Light Nights (Leeds was the first in the UK). Other cities are completely different to Leeds, with some having one or two big events, or taking the "light" part literally and using lasers and stuff. Leeds Light Night focuses on the artists and the people of Leeds. It asks for submissions and is open to anyone (obviously, as they took me!) What submissions come in form the basis of Light Night. Basically, it makes the whole city into a giant playground for the arts, and for the people of Leeds.

Light Night is spread over the whole of Leeds - from the university buildings and Hyde Park Picture House in the north to Round Foundry and Templeworks in the south. There are around 100 events going on, including theatre pieces, sound installations, art exhibits, bands, children's entertainment...and some really crazy stuff. How about visiting a crashed spaceship in the library, or going on a static rollercoaster in Victoria Gardens? What about a moving maze in Millennium Square? Light Night embraces all the different grassroots and established arts and culture in Leeds. There are a lot of events that you might stumble across, such as projections on buildings and theatre pieces that travel around the city centre, and there are set pieces in certain places (such as mine) that you can plan to go and see.

A lot of the fun of Light Night is that buildings open late, such as Leeds City Museum, and some buildings open that normally you wouldn't be able to get into, like the tunnels under the Town Hall. So it's a brilliant way to have a nosey about as well.

The thing that I think is best about Light Night is the way it embraces the people of Leeds. If you're not into art, you'll probably still enjoy the virtual spray painting in Millennium Square. If you're interested in Leeds history, why not check out the Underworlds tour from Leeds City Museum which fuses local architecture and history with that of ancient mythology. If you like music, drop by and see the sound on a wire piece in the Town Hall. If you hate all the arts, you can still get a free fortune cookie from around Little Woodhouse. Everybody likes cookies. Light Night is about celebrating the city and the people who live here. It's not trying to be a highbrow arts event (though there is high-end stuff going on), it's trying, and I think succeeds, in being a fun, varied way of linking up lots and lots (and lots!) of stuff that goes on in the city, and making it more accessible for everyone. It promotes what's great about Leeds, makes the city more inviting (don't worry too much about getting lost - you'll probably find a dancing urban nymph round the corner) and might just get a few people interested who weren't interested before.

Plus, don't forget that it is all free. Every event is free. The artists involved do it for free, the buildings that open late don't charge. Bands and performers and the people who will point you in the right direction for things all do it for free. Light Night Leeds is a night put on by the council, and the guys that run it work really hard on a tiny budget to put on over 100 events, with no charge.

So what have you got to lose? Come and play with your city.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Light up, light up

The LEDs arrived.

I started putting them in the cranes, through the bottom, and realised that at the rate it was taking me I wouldn't make Light Night 2012, let alone the Light Night in a few weeks. I was having to virtually completely unfold the crane, put the light in, then refold it.

This was the first real problem I've had since the start of the project, and at this late stage it panicked me that something so massive could go wrong. I'm also a little bit fixated with planning, so to have not factored in that my plan wouldn't work made me really angry with myself, and made me panic more.

Hours later, with a prototype crane so mangled it looked like the victim of a road traffic accident, and me sat sobbing on the sofa because I still couldn't figure out a quick way to put the LED in, and the way I was doing it was so complicated I couldn't possibly ask anyone else to help, and my lovely, gorgeous husband looked at it and said

"why don't you just cut a hole in the top, and drop the LED in?"

The man's a genius. It now takes around 30 seconds to do a crane, and once they're hung up, you won't even notice the hole in the top (it's covered over with sticky tape so the LED doesn't just pop out again).

I'm back on track!

Sunday, 12 September 2010


I've finished my cranes. A few of us gathered in the pub whilst I folded the final ten, and they're all done. Whilst I was doing the last hundred, I thought a lot about how much has changed since I started, and everything that I've done since I folded my first crane for this project.

My cranes have been to and been folded at, and during:

Foldageddons Light Night budget meetings Leeds Pride a new dr (who) Unity Day various pubs Brighton Chorley Manchester trivial pursuit partiesTabby's naming party beer train a general election testspace Nuneaton Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorial the last ashes to ashes various club nights Manchester Pride secret tearoom my birthday party other people's birthday parties over the rainbow house sale a (very minor) house fire michael mcintyre ilovewestleeds festival the world cup Sheffield lots of motorways and lots of other things!

thank you to everyone who has supported me so far, and a special thank you to my husband Rob, who cut 1000 pieces of paper into squares for me to fold!

There's still lots more to come before October, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Final furlong

Have a quick look at the Totalizer in the right hand sidebar. At the time of writing this, it is at 940. By Friday the total will be 1000. One. Thousand. Cranes.

I've got it all planned out, twenty a day until Friday, when I'll do ten through the day, then I'm going to go to Nation of Shopkeepers pub to fold the last ten in the company of friends, then I'll have a big drink to celebrate.

If you're in Leeds, and you'd like to see the final ten being made, or you just want to come for a drink, then please feel free to drop in. I'll be there from half past four.

It feels weird being on the home straight. There's still LOADS to do for Light Night, but this part of it is almost over. It doesn't seem very long ago that I fudged the totalizer because 8 cranes didn't even show up on it, and now it's almost full. I have bags everywhere with cranes in, and I've got used to always carrying some paper just in case I have five minutes. My fingers won't know what to do!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

One more thing...

Yesterday I was sat at work when the phone rang. It was one of the organisers of Light Night saying that the courtroom, which is the room next to the tunnels where my project will be, had come free, and would I be able to do something with it?

This is where people will be coming in to get to the tunnels (you walk into the dock of the courtroom then down some stairs, the way the prisoners would have done), so of course I said yes. I hoofed it over to the Town Hall to have a look. The room is huge, and all traditionally wood-panelled with chandeliers. It isn't actually used as a courtroom anymore, but it's quite often used for filming of Emmerdale and other TV programmes, so you may have seen it already. There's a huge table in the middle of it which would be perfect for folding.

I came away a little nervous, but very excited. To be offered an opportunity to do more is great, but it's only five weeks away and I don't want it to look like a half-arsed attempt. We were discussing ideas as I wanted to keep the cranes separate from the courtroom so you still had the impact, but I want it all to look connected. After a bit of thinking, and some messing about with models, I hit upon an idea.

The 'thousand crane' story is an ancient Japanese legend, popularised by the story of Sadako Sasaki, and I often have to explain this. What if I made the courtroom into a sort of prelude to my thousand cranes? I could have some information up, and the sailboat folding in there. Thinking about making it about Sadako and the Japanese legend led me to thinking about making the courtroom into a peace garden. Lots of origami cherry blossoms 'growing' out of the courtroom, taking over the place of judgement and turning it into a place of peace and contemplation.

So this is my challenge. As well as finishing the thousand cranes project, now I need to make cherry blossoms. I'm planning on calling on volunteers to help, so if you want to get involved, please let me know. And wish me luck!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Back to school Foldageddon

There's going to be another Foldageddon. 16th September at 6.30pm (venue tbc)

And to celebrate September, it's going to be a Back To School Special. We'll be making origami models you might remember from your childhood - a fortune teller, a waterbomb and a banger. I'll also go over any previous models we've done, or if you have any queries I'll try my best to answer them.

As usual, Foldageddon is completely and utterly free and materials will be provided, but it's nice if you buy a drink at the bar as a thanks for hosting us, and there will be a donation box to cover costs of paper etc.

Also, afterwards, I'll be folding boats for Light Night, if anyone wants to help out! This will be the last Foldageddon before Light Night, so if you've any questions about my project, feel free to come along and quiz me!

If you're coming give me a shout on Twitter or leave a comment here, then I can arrange a suitable sized venue. Fold on!