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    Entries in Events (37)


    Excess All Areas - a new art exhibition celebrating our city's musical heritage

    We've been hinting at it for many months now, but we are finally ready to announce our partnership with Back to Basics and Leeds Gallery, towards an exhibition of original art that opens next Friday, 17 February 2012.

    The exhibition, which has been possible thanks to support from Marketing Leeds, draws together a collection of the iconic images used to promote just some of more than one thousand parties thrown by legendary Leeds club night Back to Basics, since it opened its doors 20 years ago. Each image was created by the club’s promoter, resident artist and “purveyor of good times”, Dave Beer, as part of an ongoing collaboration with designer Nic Gundill - a partnership that has lasted two decades.
    It also includes a new sound sculpture by the artist Paul Fryer (a sort of portrait of Dave Beer), which has been created especially for the exhibition. Paul is London based but lived in Leeds until 1996. After dropping out of his course at Leeds College of Art in the 1980's Paul was instrumental in creating the widely acclaimed Art-based clubs The Kit Cat Club and Vague (see Lee's earlier post). On returning to London he established his career as an artist, and has worked alongside the likes of Damien Hirst, and with international fashion brands like Fendi.
    From the very beginning Dave (who, like Fryer, started out at Art college) approached the flyers as a form of free art for the masses - embodying the club’s punk roots - to be shared on the bedroom walls of a generation of club kids. They also embody Dave’s deep passion for and appreciation of contemporary art but - whilst many lines could be traced between this work and that of other acts of appropriation in art (“practicing without a license” as Richard Prince once put it) - in reality, these flyers carve out their own aesthetic space. They represent instinctive acts, specific to both the sub-culture that surrounds them and to the individual who realised them. They capture a point in the club’s story and offer us a lens through which to explore our shared cultural and social history.


    Basics, as it is known by regulars to the club, was started in 1991 by a group of friends seeking an antidote to the whistle blowing, white glove wearing rave culture that saw in the nineties. Following the birth of the Acid House scene in the late 80’s, a new dance music sub-culture emerged. It was forged on the dancefloors of clubs like the Hacienda in Manchester, and in the consciousness of a generation of revellers still reeling from the effects of successive Conservative governments, and affected by the black-clad ‘yuppie’ culture of the times. This was the period just after Thatcher and just before John Major’s fortuitously named Back to Basics campaign, and the introduction of a Criminal Justice and Public Order Act that focussed the authorities on a culture it characterised by the emission of “repetitive beats”. For many young people, it was a time that demanded reaction, the A6 flyer would be their platform of choice and the infamously anarchistic club at the centre of this exhibition would be one of the strongest voices.    

    In Dave’s own words:
    “It was a case of either go out and kick the fuck out of something, or channel our energy into something constructive. Although I chose a career in the music industry, there was a time when I seriously considered a different path, in art. I was inspired by the work of Jamie Reid (an artist I came to know personally, and who designed our 1st birthday flyer - making him the only other person to design a Basics flyer) and I was excited by the possibilities of plagiarising other peoples’ work, taking existing and often already iconic images and overlaying them with my ideas to make a statement about the world outside.
    I’ve always approached each flyer as a piece of art, prioritising the image and its message over the actual information about the night it was supposed to be promoting. I spent so much time refining the flyers, many were delivered late; so late in fact that the party had often already happened by the time the flyer went to print?!
    I look around at street culture today, at the work of artists like Banksy, and see a real connection between what we were doing then and what they are doing today. It’s crazy to think that there is so much of that work happening now, and not just on the streets - on greeting cards and t-shirts - it’s totally part of the mainstream, and yet back then we were the only ones doing it.” 
    Dave first met Alistair Cooke at Art college in Wakefield, where the pair studied fine art, although their vision for Basics was forged years later. Dave dropped out of college to work as a road manager for the Sisters of Mercy and Pop Will Eat Itself. Ali graduated and found himself working in a record shop; it seemed music was a chosen destination for the pair. Their plans for the club came together when they reconnected at a warehouse party and, disillusioned by tone and colour of the Acid House scene, decided to go ‘back to basics’. Along with Ralph Lawson and Martin Lever, the club’s first resident DJ’s (although Martin could only hack two weeks), they opened their club on 26 November 1991 in the Music Factory; “a seedy three storey gay club” on Lower Briggate, over looking the very bridge that gave the city its industrial heart beat. It seems fitting that this should be the inaugural venue for Back to Basics, a club whose impact has been part of the cultural and economic renaissance that led Leeds into the 21st century. It is widely accepted, for example, that Back to Basics and the nightlife culture it spawned has been a catalyst for a growing student population. It is also a fact that the club’s “no trainers” policy was the driving force behind one of the most successful fashion brands to come out of Leeds, Nicholas Deakins; just one example of how the club’s dress code changed fashion and retail at the time. The cultural and economic impact of Back to Basics on this city, and on our culture in general - the likes of Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx and Daft Punk are among those to have played their UK debut and found their feet in Basics - can not be underestimated.

    Twenty years later Back to Basics remains a pioneer and has retained its rock and roll ethos. Against all the odds, for a club that deliberately turned its back on the commercial world of the club “brand”, Back to Basics has turned 20 and is now the longest running club night of its kind, anywhere in the world. Sadly, some beloved friends have not managed the whole journey, most notably Ali Cooke and Jocelyn Higgin who lost their lives in a tragic car accident in 1993, an accident from which Dave and a former girlfriend, Jill Morris, had miraculously walked away. It is to Ali, Jocelyn and the others that this exhibition is dedicated, as well as to the family of resident DJ’s and committed (and still discerning) clubbers who continue to help Back to Basics go “two steps further than any other fucker!”
    Whilst some of the images have been displayed in a gallery context before, most notably at the Barbican Centre and Ultra Lounge at Selfridges & Co in London, this is the first time an exhibition dedicated to the artwork of Back to Basics has been shown. For some they will inspire shock and even disgust. For others they will inspire nostalgia and knowing laughter. As long as they inspire something it will have been worth the incredible and often challenging journey we have been through to make this exhibition possible; whoever thought that floppy disks and zip drives would last forever was sadly wrong. Thankfully we were working with Dave, a man whose “fuck forever!” mentality has earned him a place in the dance music Hall of Fame, and somehow we’ve delivered – we hope that you will come and have a look, and we hope that you will enjoy!
    Visit for more information, and for a full catalogue of the works on display.

    I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the exhibition walls that I think sums up the ethos of Basics and this exhibition:
    “There’s people who make things happen. 
    There’s people who watch things happen.
    There’s people who say what happened.
    What happened?”
    Dave Beer, 1996

    The Hebe Week In Pics

    Nigel Martyn being interviewed by Bryn Law for Sky Sports Then i got on the mic! Showed them how it's done ;)Lee with the legend!And then i jumped in for one with Big Nige!STP at Leeds Loves Shopping launchLovely cakes in Anthony's in VQ (chocolate pistachio squares FTW!)Now you see you don't!We caught up with the lovely Leeds Fashion Show Girls!East Street Arts giving an old school presentation including 'walking screensaver' :)Graffiti campaign in the city, Albion StreetLovely photo of Hunslet Church and rainbow captured by STP


    Hebe Week(s) In Pics

    Stacey interviewed Mick McCann for LOL! Leeds Online"I am easily the best looking writer in Leeds!"As with most of our interviews, we hit MOJO in Leeds, still our favourite bar in the world ;)We had a new delivery of of Lee's research reading...
    Showcase is so old that it is starting to have that nice retro feel about it nowWe got these awesome bar stools a couple of weeks agoThe legend is now in his frame and takes pride of place in Hebe landWe said we would not give into Krispy Kreme, we failedWe hit Leeds Pride last week. Was packed despite the rain!Easily one of the best events the city hasWe hit Hyper Island in Manchester and as expected, magic is happening in there right now


    Yorkshire International Business Convention 2011 - some reflections

    On Friday I was invited by Marketing Leeds (thanks guys!) to attend the Yorkshire International Business Convention (YIBC) in Harrogate. I have to be honest and say that, until Marketing Leeds extended the invite, I had never heard of YIBC.

    I also have a second confession to make - despite the fact that my previous encounters with Marketing Leeds have involved interesting and interested people, and the opportunity to make new connections was a part of my decision to go along, the real draw was the key note speaker - Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the (British) inventor of the World Wide Web.

    There are lots of things I could say about this event, many good and some not so good (like the fact that there is nothing remotely international about it). What I want to focus on here, however, are the opportunities missed by the way the event was, or wasn't curated, and to share some thoughts about what the organisers might do in future years to create something more... well, meaningful I suppose.

    For information, and in addition to the aforementioned Berners-Lee, the 2011 YIBC speakers were Roy Walker (comedian); Terry Hill (Chairman, Arup Trust); Monty Hall (former Royal Marine turned tv presenter); Caroline Marsh (property developer); and Harry Grasham (Look North presenter) in conversation with Andrew Strauss (England Cricket Captain).

    'Winners: Inspiring people, inspiring people' was the theme of this year's YIBC and looking over the list of speakers one thing seems clear, the event aims to inspire by programming speakers who can offer the business community a different perspective on things by talking about their achievements. This is what happened but, with the exception of Terry Hill's neat presentation about the impact of employee ownership, all speakers forgot something quite crucial - to form a link between their insights and the needs of business today. For me, this made for a rather uninspiring event.

    A conversation about the immediate needs of Yorkshire businesses did take place just after lunch when a panel discussion was held between the Chairs of the three regional Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Fielding questions from the audience, the Chairs reflected on how the region adapts to life after Yorkshire Forward; the role of LEPs; and how the high funding thresholds in the new regime translate into support for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME). Listening to this conversation I started to wonder, if these were the immediate concerns of the business community, what would the event be like if the speakers responded to them.

    To illustrate what I mean, I want to offer an example using Sir Tim Berners-Lee's address. Let's say that, instead of retelling the story of the creation of the internet (which was fascinating to a technophile like me, but perhaps not critical to business - I overheared a handful of people expressing this sentiment) Berners-Lee talked about networks and 'network culture'. Let's imagine that he had been prompted by the organisers to reflect on how network culture can benefit an ecosystem like Yorkshire's business community. One of the things he might choose to talk about is 'resilience', a term always on the periphery of conversation in business today. He might talk about how resilience, as used in systems theory, is a term that describes how a system (a regional economy, for example) adapts to cope with a disturbance in the external environment (the closure of Yorkshire Forward, or the restricted access to funding for SME's, for example). He might point out that most systems (I'm taking a bit of poetic license here) adapt by cutting out 'redundancy' (capacity that is spare) which in turn cuts down 'requisite variety' (narrows a system's options - if you don't have spare capacity it might be harder to spot and exploit new opportunities, or to take risks, for example). He might go on to highlight that the ability to network computers has done something very interesting in this context - rather than one computer's processor reaching capacity and slowing down a process, it can borrow redundant processing power from another computer on the same network. As a whole, the network can cooperate to ensure that the system is fulfilling its maximum potential. To bring it back to business, and the physical world, Berners-Lee might challenge the regional community to think about how bigger businesses with spare capacity (financial or otherwise) can cooperate to speed up growth, perhaps by creating space for risk in the SME sector by increasing their 'requisite variety'. In this way the speaker would be inspiring action. Personally, I'd have found that more meaningful to the future development of our business than listening to Grasham and Strauss talk about the uncertain future of test cricket.

    In his opening comments the convention's organiser, Mike Firth, had referred to the event "cutting its cloth". This was translated, by some of the people I met, to mean that they had not been able to afford an ex-president or mega star as the keynote speaker, as in previous years. I was left feeling that, if this event is to be scaled back in future, the organisers need to think less about the who, and place much more emphasis on what speakers have to say, that's of relevance to the convention's audience.

    I think the fact that a third of the audience left before Berners-Lee took to the stage illustrates a disconnect between the industries of today and those of tomorrow. This was further emphasised by the arrival of two groups of college students and colleagues from a number of the region's key digital agencies precisely as Sir Tim took the stage. With this in mind, I also think something the organisers might want to consider is how they engage with people from emerging, knowledge-based industries, across the region. For our part we are here and always happy to help!


    Leeds in Barcelona: Spotlight on ICS

    Tonight will be the feature showcase of Leeds in Barcelona: A Creative Encounter. A main part of this showcase will be a performance from Leeds band ICS. This is the first time we are working directly with the boys on a project and we are really excited to see how there sound goes down in Barcelona.

    We first met ICS at a Harvey Nichols fashion show. Immediately we knew they were the type of people we like to work with. They are fresh, innovative and heavily influenced by the underground of the city and the fashion scene. 

    We think for a showcase of what is really interesting in Leeds, ICS are perfect. Last year they attracted a lot of media attention and airplay on Radio 1 and with some of the world's biggest bloggers. They have been working away on a new EP since then and they will perform their new stuff tonight for the Barcelona crowd.

    Check out the video above and listen to a teaser of the new album below!

      I C S - (Release To Be Announced) by ICS.