Category Archives: Home Tourist

The Imposter at Hyde Park Picture House

One of the absolute best things about Leeds is the cool unique places and businesses (often run by very cool, independent people) that make it actually feel like Leeds and not some other, faceless, impersonal city. Every city has a few of these gems and I always try to seek them out on a visit, but there’s nothing like the ones back home that have weaved themselves into the fabric of my life and memories, but still feel special and exciting.

One such place for me is the Hyde Park Picture House, a gorgeous art house cinema which opened in 1914 and was saved from closure by Leeds City Council in 1989. The moment I glimpse the lit up façade of the Grade II listed building as I walk down Brudenell Road, I’m ready for a genuine cinema experience. It’s just streets ahead of anything with seventeen screens, lino floors and a fleet of teenagers asking if you’d like a large popcorn for just £18.26. Instead, you’ll find smiling faces, plush red carpets, bowls of sugar cubes and free biscuits with your tea, and fair trade chocolate for sale. Our tickets were a measly £6, compared to Vue’s £8.15, or £9.85 if you want a seat bigger than those on aeroplanes. Sure, there’s only one film on, but it could be literally anything – a cult classic with a live orchestra, the latest Bollywood offering, or the brilliant documentary I saw last night.


 The Imposter tells a remarkable true story. When 13 year old Nicholas Barclay goes missing in 1994, his family are devastated, and instantly launch a search campaign. His picture is plastered to the wall of every diner in Texas, but without any leads at all the case soon turns cold. When a young man claiming to be Nicholas turns up on the streets of Spain, it seems like a miracle – but is it too good to be true? Would three years away from home give Nicholas a noticeable foreign accent, and how have his eyes changed from blue to brown?

Director Bart Layton plays his cards close to his chest for the first hour, but the stunning denouement left me breathless. I walked out of the cinema questioning every missing person documentary I’d ever seen, and asking myself questions about identity and lies and bias and secrets and empathy and denial. For the main part, the film was made up of reconstructions with actors and interviews with the original cast of this bizarre story – the American ambassador to Spain, an FBI agent, the Barclay family and the young man at the heart of the drama, who is captivating but completely untrustworthy. There were also just one or two home videos that slammed this whole thing home for me, that were almost painful to watch and difficult to understand. As the story moves forward, I start to find myself feeling confused, uncomfortable, a little foolish.

I can’t really say more: it’s a film that should be experienced with as little fore-knowledge as possible. It’s on at the Hyde Park Picture House until 30th August, so move quickly!


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Filed under Films, Home Tourist, Leeds Icons

Joan Miro at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

As I’m sure you’re aware thanks to my enthusiastic tweets, a couple of nights ago a whole bunch of lovely Leeds bloggers and tweeters were invited to Yorkshire Sculpture Parkto see their latest exhibition: a collection of Jean Miró’s sculpture.

I’ve never been to the Park in the dark before, largely because my main purpose for visiting is generally a lot more picnic related than not. In fact, until a year or so ago I genuinely believed that there were about 30 sculptures in the Park, that never changed, and that was it. But, I live and learn, and I won’t make that mistake again!

After a little welcome chat, we were led through to the Underground Gallery, where most of the collection is housed. We were lucky enough to be given a general overview of the works by Clare, the head curator, who gave us a fascinating insight into Miró’s life and work.

The pieces are as varied as they are surreal; according to Clare, he worked with two different foundries simultaneously, leading to two very distinct types of sculpture. One type is huge, inky black, smooth and so shiny you can see your own, dull reflection within it. The pieces are like cartoonish, obese versions of their subjects: men, women, birds. A few have violent lines gouged into them which look as if they’re done on the spur of the moment, in a sudden, quickly forgotten moment of rage.

In stark contrast are a number of pieces splashed with the brightest of reds, yellows, blues and greens. They are found objects and pieces of junk, brought together into totems resembling an approximate human form – so much taller and spindlier than their shiny black counterparts. One of the galleries had a quote on the wall from Miró, saying: “For me an object is something living. This cigarette or this box of matches contains a secret life much more intense than that of certain human beings.” I could easily see this in his work as he plastered together objects like taps, sponges and cans to make sculptures of the female form.

Finally are a series of raw bronze works, which are smaller and distinctly overpowered by the others. Like the totems they are made from various objects cobbled together, and despite the lack of much finishing, a few of the pieces struck me as remarkable tactile. One had strips of bronze at the back that looked so much like soft, malleable strips of leather in the way they hung that I had to clasp my hands together to keep from touching it.

The curator told us that Miró wanted art to be part of people’s everyday life. Many of his pieces are in major cities, and he lived in the country for most of his life. His work reflects his love of the land, so it was odd really to see so many pieces all in this industrial warehouse style gallery. It felt like the pieces were too big for the rooms; there was too much vitality in them for them all to be cooped up together. I really wanted to see the pieces that were outside, where I felt the setting would be more fitting for the majesty of the larger pieces. Unfortunately, by that point it was far too dark to see them; all I could see were dark shadowy shapes. I can’t wait to get back there to have a good look!

I was left feeling curious about Miró, a man who saved his most ambitious ideas for his latest years. Who wouldn’t want to know more about a man who refused to identify as a Surrealist, so he was free to experiment as much as he wanted with other styles, who wanted to find a way to make four dimensional paintings, and who wrote about the possibility of gas sculpture? His work is colourful, playful and fun, but in the gouged grooves and garish faces is a hint of the depression that he suffered throughout his life.

If you want to find out more about that man, the exhibition is on from 17th March 2012 until 6th January 2013. More info is here.

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Filed under After the Event, Home Tourist, Upcoming Events

Orphans, errands and Italian food

My weekend started early this time, for once, with a trip to see Annie at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I can get the odd free ticket to productions there via my day job, and initially I hadn’t especially fancied it. After seeing a couple of pretty impressive reviews in the Guardian and the Telegraph, though, I didn’t really want to miss it.

The production absolutely blew me away! As all the papers say, it really is the kids that make it. They’re so professional – every note is perfect, every move is measured and precise. We saw Phoebe Roberts as Annie (she’s alternating with Sophie Downham) and she was everything Annie should be – feisty, but vulnerable, with heaps of street smarts and a healthy dose of optimism. The setting – the USA in recession – couldn’t be more fitting and we left the theatre feeling on top of the world. Honestly, if I’d seen it in the West End, at West End prices, I’d have still loved it.

If you like musical theatre, get Annie tickets. If you need a last minute Christmas present, get Annie tickets. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, get Annie tickets. You won’t regret it!

On the way I had my first ever Fish&, as I never seem to be in town when they are, and they always sell out early at events! Even on this occasion, as it was late evening, they were out of their legendary mac baps, so we settled for the lime and chilli battered fish and sweet potato chips. Gorgeous and the perfect meal to squeeze between some evening shopping and the theatre. Light, satisfying, locally produced and responsibly sourced.

Garlic mayo...YES PLEASE

Why is a menu written in chalk ten times more appetising than a printed one?

Saturday brought errands – we’ve just moved house so we headed to Ikea to pick up some essentials.

The dreaded self service warehouse...does it really save them that much money?

We definitely needed to recover after that, and we had some family in town for a shopping trip, so we headed off to – where else? – the Tiled Hall Café at Leeds Art Gallery for a hot drink and cake. I’ve said this before but there’s nothing I love more than showing off a gorgeous, unique part ofLeeds to someone who’s visiting. They loved the food and the atmosphere (who wouldn’t?) so it was a job well done. My brother-in-law tried the dandelion and burdock cake and pronounced it exceptionally good, so it’s on my list to try next time!

The amazing roof

Pretty Christmas lights

Then on Saturday night, we finally got to try out that Leeds institution, Salvo’s. I’ve been hearing good things about it for years, but never made it there for one reason or another. We had agreed with some friends of ours that instead of presents we would go there for a meal, and it was a great choice. I forgot to take pictures – the company was rather good – but I had the chicken supreme in a garlic cream sauce, and it was divine. It’s on the pricey side unless you stick to pasta and water, but the food really is good and the service is excellent. We left very happy indeed!

After all that excitement, plus the fact that I’m currently recovering from a rather nasty sinus infection, we dedicated Sunday to Christmas films and home made Christmas biscuits with some good friends.

The best Christmas film of all time?

What’s that you say? Why are my pictures so small? Gosh, well, I’ve really got no idea. Sorry.


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Filed under After the Event, Food and Drink, Home Tourist

Enjoying Leeds solo

I’ve been a bit of a home tourist in Leeds today, all on my lonesome, so I thought I’d share what I’d been up to. I can tend to get a bit lazy when I’m by myself and just stay in enjoying the me time, but I made myself get out and about to enjoy the gorgeous weather this morning – cold but bright!

First off I decided to go up to Roundhay Park for a run. Bangs and a Bun recommended trying a route around the lake, and it was the perfect day for it. I’m very new to running (as in, this was my third ever and I walked nearly all of it) so it really helps to have pretty scenery to distract me from the fact that I’m being lapped by pensioners.


Isn't it beautiful?


Next I headed to Temple Works, where they were having a book sale. The room was crammed with books, plus tons of gorgeous, raggedy old furniture where you can sit and leaf through your finds. I bagged 5 awesome books for £8, and I wish I could say they were Christmas presents for people, but they’re all mine! I’m a real bookworm so I’ll take advantage of pretty much any chance to pick up cheaper books. Plus, second hand helps the planet! The sale is on again tomorrow (Sunday) 1pm to 5pm so do get down there if you have chance – there’s tons to choose from! You’ll especially like it if you’re into psychology, poetry, cultural theory, feminist theory or theology – whilst there’s a wide range of stuff these topics are especially well represented.


A tiny proportion of the books available.


A wider view.


My haul.


I haven’t tucked in to my books yet – I’ve had an evening in with the girls watching X Factor. I live really close to the Sunshine Bakery, so I swung by beforehand to pick up some sweet treats. I did intend to take a photo of them but unfortunately we ate them before I remembered. They went down a treat!

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Filed under Home Tourist