Audio series connects Quarry Hill site to its iconic past

Nothing brings a story to life more than vivid memories. Expert storytellers and audio producers, Better Songs, have done just that through their audio series, Memento Mori. 

After being selected to receive £3k as part of the Leeds City College Arts Fund, Better Songs started work on its Quarry Hill flats inspired project. 

The sound of history 

Memento Mori creates sonic stories from the work of the photographer, Peter Mitchell, who captured the demolition of Quarry Hill flats in the 1970s.

Rosie Parsons, audio producer at Better Songs, said: “After interviewing Peter, we were inspired to create a more in-depth look at his work through sound, bringing together some of his diary excerpts and stories, and memories of the flats from former residents. Our project aims to bring those stories and memories to life and explore Quarry Hill and Peter’s photography of Leeds’ history and its present.”

Perfect fit

After already deciding on a project inspired by Quarry Hill, the Arts Fund was an ideal fit for Better Songs. 

Rosie commented: “The funding brief was open to a range of art forms, including sound, and it had a real focus on supporting emerging artists. The fund has allowed us to carry out all aspects of the work, including the ability to purchase the required equipment as well as time to research, conduct interviews, edit the episodes and distribute the series online.”

Connecting with students

The Quarry Hill site is incredibly significant in Leeds and Better Songs wanted to connect students at college back to the people and places that went before them.

Verity Watts, founder and executive producer, added: “The final episode of our soundscape documentary is dedicated to extended interviews with current students who have listened and reflected on the first three episodes. 

“We wanted to know, what did they discover? What moved them? What has made them curious? This process is interesting in itself, finding out what resonates with young people studying on this site and cements the stories and experiences of Quarry Hill firmly for future generations.”

Making progress

Better Songs has now completed three out of the four episodes for the Memento Mori series.

Verity said: “Our first episode ‘The Winged Cobra Lands’ charts the arrival of Peter Mitchell in Leeds; how he became enthralled with the Quarry Hill flats and their demolition. The second episode ‘Battleship on Eastgate’ looks at the iconic nature of the flats; their imposing size and design carving out a huge part of the city skyline, and impressions of living there from former residents.

“Episode three, ‘Goodbye World’, looks at the demolition of the flats and the impact this had on residents who were being separated and for Peter Mitchell himself. The final episode will be completed when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, hopefully by the end of January 2021.”

Find out more about Memento Mori here.

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