Carnival and Culture Songs of Praise


Carnival and Culture

Pam Rhodes meets hip-hop artist Testament, and participants in Europe's longest running Caribbean carnival, and introduces soloist Kristyna Myles.


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Transcript


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Have you any idea where Europe's first Caribbean carnival was held?

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Well, it was here, in Leeds

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and every year it seems to get more spectacular.

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But the city also hosts ballet, drama and many kinds of music

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and we're keeping the beat in today's Songs Of Praise.

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Well, with the big parade swinging through the streets tomorrow,

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there are sequins to sew and feathers to fix. It's all great fun,

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but you know Leeds has always known how to entertain a crowd.

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Do you remember this?

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The City Varieties Theatre, home to Britain's longest-running

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television variety show, The Good Old Days.

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CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS

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Well, long before we had TV, on this stage,

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a very young Charlie Chaplin clog danced.

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Lillie Langtry performed knowing that the Prince of Wales had

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sneaked in to watch her and Harry Houdini...

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Well, he escaped.

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And it was in this city in 1888

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that the world's first moving picture sequences were filmed.

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Two scenes were shot here using paper film on a single-lens camera

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developed by the inventor Louis le Prince.

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MELLOW JAZZ

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But this is a city that loves music,

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so it's no surprise that back in the '60s,

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the UK's first full-time jazz course was established here,

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at the Leeds College of Music,

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and it's students from here who are warming up now

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to provide some toe-tapping rhythms for our hymns this week.

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We're definitely in for a happy day.

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JAZZ BAND STRIKES UP

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Leeds Carnival has its roots firmly in the sunshine of the Caribbean.

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However, back in the 1960s,

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the West Indian community here was very disconnected.

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We needed something to bind us together

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as people from all over the Caribbean.

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Having an event where you don't need an invite,

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everybody comes.

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The best remedy for our homesickness is the carnival.

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Most West Indians are very religious

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and they didn't accept carnival,

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for they think...well, they were saying we were doing devil work.

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You know, because we're not sitting in a church singing and clapping.

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My argument - life needs to be celebrated,

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rather than we sit down with our head in the Bible reading.

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And I do believe there is music in heaven.

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So why not?

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When members of Leeds carnival troupe celebrated

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the start of the Tour de France,

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they gave the first outing to new costumes by designer Hughbon Condor.

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Both costumes had doves on,

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and both costumes showed the dove in a highlight position,

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flying above the whole crowd.

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And of course there's one at ground level to have a much closer view

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of the whole concert and the dove.

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I wanted the doves to move, as well, so there was some flexibility,

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not just static.

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So I think it worked really well in terms of being able to create that.

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It's all about celebration, it's all about niceness,

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it's all about beauty, it's all about light.

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So I suppose

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if I was to describe it,

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I would say that it's like a rainbow, the biggest rainbow

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that maybe crosses Leeds in August,

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on the August bank holiday, because

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I think that's the one time that I see so many people come together.

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So the streets of Leeds often resound with music,

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not just from Carnival, but from solo performers like

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Kristyna Myles, who was BBC Radio 5 Live's Busker Of The Year.

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She's about to lead the congregation in a medley of the hymn

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Blessed Assurance and a George Harrison song.

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Sounds unlikely, but it works.

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As buildings go, from the outside,

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the former St Margaret of Antioch Church in inner-city Leeds

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looks rather uninspiring.

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But a wonderful surprise awaits you when you walk inside

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with these neo-Gothic arches that draw the eye and lift the soul.

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This is Left Bank Leeds, run by a collective of artists,

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most of whom share a Christian ethos.

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Local illustrator and artist Si Smith is part of the community,

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so has curated exhibitions and shown his own work here.

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Left Bank Leeds is this amazing old church

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and it's used by the local community artists for exhibitions.

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We have weddings here, parties, there's quite a few gigs

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and things here.

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So it's just a beautiful space that is

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sort of part of the community now.

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Now, you're an illustrator, you do cartoons more than anything.

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-Quite a simple form of art really, isn't it?

-Yeah, yeah.

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Hopefully it's sort of deceptively simple!

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Tell me about Raised In Leeds, which was exhibited here.

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Raised In Leeds was a piece that was commissioned

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by the church Pastoral Aid Society

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and they asked me

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to illustrate the Stations of the Resurrection, which is

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19 meetings with the risen Christ,

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so it goes from the earthquake on Easter Sunday

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through to Saul on the road to Damascus.

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They asked me to illustrate those and they let me

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update the story to modern-day Leeds.

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It was lovely for me to be able to do that,

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because it turned into a sort of love letter to Leeds.

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It also means that people are connecting with it in a very

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personal way and it's their personal surroundings here, isn't it?

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Yes, and I think that's one of the great things about setting it

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in the modern-day where it is, because those spaces,

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they don't belong to me, they belong to everybody.

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And I think as well, it's that thing of imagining yourself into the story.

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And it's very easy to think about the Resurrection and think about...

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it happened a long time ago and a long way away, to a very old people.

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Whereas this way, the Resurrection is about now and I like that idea.

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# When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more

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# And the morning breaks Eternal, bright and fair

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# When the saved of Earth shall gather over on the other shore

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# And the roll is called up yonder I'll be there

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder I'll be there

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# Let us labour for the Master from the dawn till setting sun

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# Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care

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# Then when all of life is over and our work on Earth is done

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# And the roll is called up yonder I'll be there

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder I'll be there

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# When the roll is called up yonder

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# Ooh

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# When the roll

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# Is called up yonder

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# I'll be

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# There, yeah

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# I'll be

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# There. #

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There's music for all tastes in this city,

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from one of the great prizes in the classical world,

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the Leeds International Piano Competition,

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which is held at the Town Hall...

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..to a thriving contemporary music scene, reflecting

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the tastes of the large student population that is here in the city.

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Now, this is the world of MC hip-hop artist

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and producer Andy Brooks, also known as Testament.

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HE BEATBOXES

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'Testament means like, an agreement, a contract, a covenant.'

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And it was almost me saying...

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I agree, I'm going to try and use music

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in a way that's going to glorify God

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and hopefully not just inflate my own ego.

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'Hip-hop is a whole urban culture using...

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'Very much associated with rap,

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'which is basically rhyming poetry over a beat.'

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'And beatboxing, which is also part of hip-hop culture,

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'is making crazy sounds with your mouth -

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'normally imitating drums and various instruments.'

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Struggling with stuff like suffering, God only knows,

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that's why I put my trust in Him because I...I don't even know.

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'If I get on the mic and I start rapping about my life, God,'

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who I everyday try and make the centre of it -

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sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail -

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but God, Jesus, Christianity is going to pop up

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because that's my raison d'etre, that's what gets me

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out of bed in the morning, it's what gives me hope.

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That's what keeps me going when everything goes a bit pear-shaped.

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So...every song I've ever released will have a reference to God in it.

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Sometimes that's not deliberate!

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'It seems to me that

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'if you're trying to put Jesus at the centre of your life,

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'even if you're talking about shoes,

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'somehow, God is going to come into that.'

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Faith is the thing that gets me through and is the ray of light

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because sometimes the world can be quite dark and oppressive

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and we need hope....

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And so far, God has not let me down

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and I have faith, even in the storms.

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Um...it's God that sustains me.

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Art and artists add flavour to this city,

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from Yorkshire-born Henry Moore

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with his world-famous sculptures

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to Leeds Art Gallery, which houses one of the best

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collections of 20th-century British art in the country.

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This takes a bit of practice, doesn't it?!

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'But it's photography that interests professional artist

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'Steve Rayner, who explores themes of spirituality,

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'drawing his inspiration from 19th-century photographic techniques.'

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Take an ordinary piece of darkroom photographic paper...

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Which is...that colour.

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It's starting to go blue immediately.

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And if you lay that down on top of there

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and put that on top of it like that...

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Clip it together...

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What's this technique called?

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It's called lumen printing, L-U-M-E-N...

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-Lumen meaning light.

-Yes.

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So how long do you have to leave it like that before you see a result?

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What colour was it when we took it out of the packet?

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Well, it was white, and it's quite deep blue now.

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Well, we've already got a result.

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It's really a matter of how long you choose to use it.

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If we were to take that off there now,

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we would have an image of that fern already.

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Right, so can you give me an idea of what it looks like then, later?

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This is one I did the Blue Peter thing on!

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This has been going for about an hour and a half

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and you can see it's gone from blue to a sort of purply-brown colour.

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Nobody has ever seen this before,

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this is the first time and it looks like that.

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-SHE GASPS

-The colours are stunning!

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-It brings out the extraordinary in the ordinary, doesn't it?

-Yes.

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I'm making something primarily for me

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and if I make something that I like,

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that makes me feel good on the inside,

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I hope it makes other people feel good too

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and that does, generally speaking, seem to happen.

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I think if you work too hard at it,

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you end up with something that looks laboured.

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Now, I recognise this in other disciplines

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that you do actually have to put a lot of work in,

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but at the same time, I think it should be something

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that you enjoy yourself and something that feels good to you.

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For lots of us, of course,

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art is just something that's colourful and a nice shape and

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we hang it on our wall in the living room, but what does it mean to you?

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The thing I mentioned about it feeling good,

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making someone feel good inside.

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It has resonances with spirituality

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and the spiritual dimensions of life because the way in which

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people respond to art, there is an element of reverence to it...

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which isn't always, I think, appropriate.

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But the way in which people respond to art, it does something

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to them on the inside, otherwise they wouldn't bother with it.

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So it actually does something that they feel is important.

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I actually think that that is in some way related

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to the spiritual dimension of life,

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or the spiritual aspect of life.

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-So do you think it's time to unveil my great work of art?

-Absolutely!

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-Here we go, then.

-Gosh, it's changed to be quite dark.

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-It was blue when we first...

-We'll just pop it down here and...

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-Would you like to take the top off?

-Oh, yes, please.

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There we are.

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If you just peel the plant off the paper...

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Ah! Look at that!

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-Gorgeous.

-Absolutely right.

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# Every little step I've made

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# Has brought me through this far

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# It hasn't been an easy road But look at where we are

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# I bought my funfair ticket

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# It ain't always what it seems

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# Fast, slow, merry go

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# Some things still out of reach

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# So I'm going to keep searching

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# I'm going to keep preaching

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# I'm going to keep pushing

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# Because heaven knows

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# I've never been a fan of being uncomfortable

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# Scares me half to death and leaves me vulnerable

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# But I'm stepping out The chance is mine to take

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# I hope I'm brave enough

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# To learn from my mistakes

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# So I'm going to keep searching

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# I'm going to keep reaching

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# I'm going to keep pushing

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# Because heaven knows

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# I'm going to keep looking

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# I'm going to keep trying

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# I'm going to keep on trusting Waiting, hoping, praying

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# Because heaven knows

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# There's no cutting corners now It's going to take hard work

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# It may require me to lay down my blood, sweat and hurt

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# So I decided today this is my decree

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# Whether they take it or leave it

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# I'll be nobody else but me

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# No, no, no, no-oh

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# So I'm going to keep searching

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# I'm going to keep reaching

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# I'm going to keep pushing

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# Because heaven knows

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# I'm going to keep looking

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# I'm going to keep trying

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# I'm going to keep on trusting Waiting, hoping, praying

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# Cos heaven knows. #

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Leeds is the only English city outside London with its own ballet

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and opera companies - the Northern Ballet Theatre and Opera North.

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It also has a prestigious list of literary sons

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and daughters like playwright Alan Bennett,

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novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford and poet Tony Harrison.

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In fact, poetry means a lot to a group who meet near here

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called Survivors' Poetry.

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'When there've been very difficult feelings

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'and experiences in depressive times,'

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I sometimes found that

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actually expressing it in words,

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on paper,

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'is a way of sort of getting it out.'

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There are two ways to look at your reflection

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The first one is to...

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'When I first started going to Survivors' a few years ago,

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'there was quite a mixture of people

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'and there still are people of different ages,

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'people from different backgrounds, but the thing we have in common'

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is that we've all experienced some kind of mental health issues.

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What were some of the lowest moments that you remember?

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I felt as if I was trapped

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and I was frightened of everything.

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I couldn't watch the television, because I was frightened of it.

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I couldn't go out because I didn't feel safe to drive

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and I was frightened to get on a bus. I couldn't go shopping

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because I was frightened of going in a shop...

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"This is my heavy, graceless form

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"My solid legs, my belly like a heap of sand...

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"But take note: this will weigh you down."

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I think a lot of what I'm doing is expressing how I'm feeling

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and how I'm experiencing the world

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and God and other people.

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You are revealing within that group some of your inner demons

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-in a way, aren't you?

-Mm.

-Does that make you feel vulnerable?

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It could do, but because it's such an accepting group,

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and because we don't in any way criticise each other

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or each other's poetry,

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there isn't any judgment there at all.

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And does God feel very real and present in your life?

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Now, there are things that I couldn't do when

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I was suffering from depression

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and in the church context,

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I do all sorts of things, even leading services sometimes.

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I feel that the gifts that God has given me,

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I'm much more able to use now and express who Jesus is for me

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with other people in the church.

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Father, we give You thanks for all who enrich our lives

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with their creative talents.

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You are the Word and the author of life stories.

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You are the artist and know us in our true colours.

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You are the source of light and life.

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Inspire us to use all our gifts in Your service,

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through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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Well, Kristyna Myles is ready to sing us on our way now

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as she leads the congregation in another musical medley,

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this time of traditional gospel songs.

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So we're going to finish, as we started,

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with our toes tapping and our voices singing praise.

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From Leeds and from me, bye-bye!

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Next week, in a special junior edition,

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David is joined by the winner of The Voice, Jermaine Jackman.

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CBBC's Hacker T Dog visits Newcastle's Catholic Cathedral

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and there'll be great family songs to sing along to.

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Pam Rhodes meets participants in Europe's longest running Caribbean carnival, which takes place in Leeds, and hip-hop artist Testament. She also introduces hymns from St Edmund's Church, Roundhay, and soloist Kristyna Myles.


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