A STREET literature project will aim to "bring Quarry Hill to life” this summer.

Quarry Hill, now the location of Leeds Playhouse and base for several other arts organisations, is the former site of a large housing estate.

Created by Leeds-based literary collective Found Fiction, Street Stories will celebrate Quarry Hill voices past, present and future.

A team of Leeds writers will be writing micro-fiction to be displayed in public spaces, abandoned areas and prominent venues across Quarry Hill.

The stories will be published in a guerrilla fashion – taking the form of vinyl stickers, wraparound banners and chalk paint murals, among others. 

The stories will be inspiring, reflective and attention-grabbing for passers by. They will combine fact and fiction, revealing a hidden truth about this historic Leeds neighbourhood in language that’s family-friendly and accessible to all.

The project is funded by Leeds City College and will be going live in mid August 2020 - so it's likely to be one of the first non-digital arts events Leeds audiences can enjoy.

Steve Clarkson, founder of Found Fiction and leader of the Street Stories project, said: “The purpose of Street Stories is to pique the interest and transcend the surroundings of passers by – ultimately, empowering and inspiring people in the community through the written word. We want to bring Quarry Hill to life.

“We also want to encourage people to look closer to discover stories in everyday places – both literally and symbolically. There’s a lot of inspiration to be found in Quarry Hill, which is a fascinating part of Leeds that’s riddled with hidden history, voices and characters.”

Found Fiction is one of five creatives selected for the Leeds City College Arts Fund, which is supporting the Street Stories project. Found Fiction is a collective of writers, readers and artists based in Leeds, but extending worldwide.

It stages creative installations and writing workshops, but it’s probably best known for printing short stories, putting them in envelopes marked READ ME, then leaving them in public spaces to be found – having done this 6,000 times over in three languages globally.

Last year, Found Fiction writers transformed Leeds into an art gallery by bringing inspirational stories to everyday places as part of It’s Proper Art.

Steve added: “I’d like to thank Leeds City College for supporting the creative community in Leeds at a time when many creative practitioners are struggling due to their events being unavoidably cancelled or postponed. We’re hugely grateful to them – and hugely excited to see how the public engages with Street Stories.”

Found Fiction has cherry-picked four Leeds writers for the project based on their creative talent and personal connections to Quarry Hill.

Chris Nickson is an historical crime novelist. Twenty-six of his books are set in Leeds, covering different periods from the 1730s to the 1950s.

He’s explored Quarry Hill and its history, from the rumours of Romans through to the heyday of the flats. He knows the plague cabins and the Turkish bath where the great Tom Maguire lived – and died – and where American gangster Owen Madden spent the first years of his life. The past in Leeds runs through his blood. 

Taiwo Ogunyinka is a published poet, performer and organiser who grew up in East End Park, Leeds. For the past 10 years of his life he has passed through Quarry Hill on morning and home commutes. Taiwo’s personal experiences and growth as an artist have been supported by Quarry Hill, through performances at the Playhouse, rehearsals at Munro House and events at the Wardrobe.

Sarah Whitehouse is a writer based in Leeds, weaving together the threads of the past, present and future of Quarry Hill. Living for the past five years in the 1850s East Street Mills, she loved the daily walk past the ghost signs of school cap makers and tailors painted on the exterior of the mill. 

Her flat is in the shadow of her grandad and great grandparents, who were part of the old St Patrick’s Parish and lived and went to school nearby. Sarah has recently started a new job at Quarry House, where her dad also works.

Mark E Johnson is a writer, runner and baker born and raised in Leeds (but bred here, there and everywhere). His writing has included comics, journalism and the history of Yorkshire food. Many of Mark’s best memories of his grandma, Dorothy, were made in the Quarry Theatre of Leeds Playhouse. She would point out St Hilda’s down the road where his grandad, Jim, used to sing, not telling the nuns that he was really there for the free breakfast.

Visit bit.ly/quarryhill to find out more about the project.