Art and Bikes

Sunday was one of those glorious bright crisp winter days so the plan was to head up to Nidderdale for some riding.  The previous night a cracking curry had been made (even if I do say so myself) and discussion turned to bikes and art both separately and together which was a theme that reoccurred to me throughout the Sunday ride.  My route with PB, taking a lead from the art side of things, was going to wind up to Brimham Rocks which were the inspiration for Clare Woods’ recent exhibition at the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield.  Clare’s interpretation of the rocks in huge (up to 30m) vivid canvases are brooding and almost ghostlike and although on a bright day like Sunday the spookiness was not apparent I can imagine that on a different early dank evening they would indeed be pretty spooky.  But before we could get up to the rocks we had a long climb up through some pretty tricky terrain.

On the previous night there had been talk of Richard Long and his land art and how apparently uses his bike to transport various bits of mud about from the banks of the River Avon, well I’m sure he’d have liked a bit of this Yorkshire mud.  It proved leg sapping to get through and as the temperature was only a couple of degrees above freezing you had to watch carefully as where the sun had not got through it was still icy, rutted and very tough to ride and then you would suddenly plunge down into the deep stuff where a thaw had taken place.

The final approach to the rocks was through this beautiful gap which very much reminded me of some of the recent Hockney paintings from his latest exhibition and I could easily imagine David happily with sketchbook or ipad that he now uses capturing this view and it’s changes through the seasons.

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Finally we got up to the stunning Brimham rocks, lungs hurting from the gulps of freezing air that I was forcing in but all worth it.  What an amazing place.

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An incredible flowing descent followed along an old pack horse track before arriving back in the car park as the sun started to dip and we rested some tired limbs.  Feet especially were bitingly cold but once warmed up all was ready for a nice couple of beers.  The talk of bike and art on the Saturday culminated with a hatched plan to see, if using photos of places where we bike, whether a piece of art work could be created that would do our experiences justice on canvas.  Watch this space for progress on the art and bike project.

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Five Truths

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Constantin Stanislavski,  Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook ? Nope me neither and I’m not too hot on my Shakey either so what was I doing after work at Howard Assembly Rooms looking at the Five Truths video / art installation – Getting my head warped that’s what.  On entering the cube where the works are displayed you are assaulted by a dizzying array of images and sounds.  Wrapped around the walls are 10 video screens of differing sizes and I think density of image.  All the screens are showing Ophelia’s mad scene from Hamlet with 2 screens showing an interpretation of the scene for each of Stanislavski, Artaud etc and it took me a while to get my bearings to be honest.  Each film runs for around 10 minutes so you can view the different interpretations of the scene however the way that the screens are orientated meant that for me it was simply impossible to just focus on 2 screens as your eyes or ears would be drawn to an adjoining screen which all added to the feelings of disorientation.

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The adaptations are all striking similar but different at the same time, so while there is dialogue across them the words are often slightly out of sync and in 1 of the screenings a sort of maudlin folk a la PJ Harvey comes warbling out and while the films all start and end at the same time telling the same story they all move at a different paces.

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The same actress wearing the same dress appears in each adaptation and it appears at first glance as though she has been given exactly the same set of objects contained in a clear plastic bag and sat at the same desk.  However as you watch the films small subtle differences emerge so the purse is different, one is holding a phone, one a pebble, one a watch, one has a goldfish bowl but not the others so your sense of similarity and symmetry again gets entangled across the screens.  The whole thing adds up to a striking visual statement, is it art, theatre, cinema, some strange new pop promo video – all are  possibilities.  I drifted into this after work not knowing what to expect and 40 odd minutes of dizzying disorientation later I was left musing again on what art is or can be and how we deal with death and unrequited love.  Stunning stuff.

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The best restaurant in Leeds

The following post is an updated version of a post that first appeared on Globetroffers – a foodie site I used to contribute to. I was minded to re-post it here after a particularly good meal at the weekend.

It’s interesting to read this again after a couple of years has passed and what’s significant for me is that I don’t think the restaurant scene in the city has changed much. That could be a result of these straightened times with people naturally cautious with their hard earned cash or it could be a lack of investment in the city holding people back…anyway, I’ve only had to update a few of the ‘Best Ofs’ – see if you agree.

So – which is the best restaurant in Leeds?

Now I have to say that I found answering the question definitively very difficult. It’s not that we’re overly blessed with amazing restaurants on every street corner. Far from it. It’s just that depending what mood your in dictates which restaurant is number one at any given point.

I started thinking aloud and it kicked off a huge discussion, as you’d expect. I’ve given it further thought and for what it’s worth started to put together a sort of ‘best of’ in the city, depending upon what you want and how you’re feeling.

I’d be interested to know what other people think as it’s by no means definitive and I’ve probably omitted some of the best places, but I’m sure you’ll let me know.

  • The best for impressing a lover, partner, foodie or out of towner that thinks Leeds is full of ignorant yokels — Anthony’s Boar Lane
  • The best wow factor in a dining room, where a cool and glamorous experience is desired — Anthony’s Piazza
  • The best for consistently excellent service, food quality, conspicuous consumption with fashionista appeal and verve — Harvey Nichols
  • The best steaks (albeit at eye watering prices) – Gaucho
  • The best indian food in Leeds — Aagrah
  • The best bustling dining room, for the noisy and boisterous, fur coat and no knickers crowd — City Bar and Grill
  • The best fish restaurant — Livebait
  • The best breakfast in Leeds — Harvey Nichols (this has been scientifically proven by me)
  • The best italian food in Leeds — San Carlo (Leeds City Centre branch)
  • The best local ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant — Diva Italiana, Pudsey

See what I mean? I could go on. All of the above restaurants are the best at any given point in time, and I think the best restaurant in some ways has to be an amalgamation of all of the above.

Now I’m going to stick my neck out. There’s a restaurant in Leeds that sticks to what it does best and concentrates on doing it incredibly well.

They’ve been beavering away, quietly serving in-the-know foodsters lovingly created food for the past few years, building a reputation as one of the best places to eat in the city. I’ll get to the point, and here it is:

The best all round restaurant in Leeds — (is still) Kendell’s Bistro.


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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Steve Kendell’s cooking and his passion and determination to create stylish, unpretentious, authentic bistro food that in some ways flies in the face of fashion. This is a real feel-good restaurant. I’ve never come out of there feeling bad about anything. Like anything or anybody, it’s not perfect. When I think back to when we dined at Angela Hartnett’s in Mayfair last year, it was a glorious thing of perfection to behold. The closest to restaurant perfection I’ve ever experienced.

But we’re a funny lot aren’t we? I’ve noticed with brands we love, we’re prepared to let them get things wrong now and again – and I think it’s the same with restaurants. We become loyal and align ourselves with what they are trying to do and it actually becomes part of our own personal brand and we in turn become evangelists. This has been the case with Kendell’s – I’m forever recommending the place to all and sundry, safe in the knowledge that whoever I tell will be safe in the hands of Steve’s team.

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Note – This review was written two years ago and it’s all still true and that in itself is testament to the quality and passion of the team at Kendell’s. On Saturday we enjoyed a superb meal, the service was excellent, the food delicious and the whole experience was simply the best we could have had. This is a restaurant with heart and it cares about it’s customers and it’s food. Get those right and you’re well on the way to being the best restaurant in Leeds.