Simon Armitage and LYR present Barnsley – An Unnatural HistorySarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Join the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and his band LYR (Land Yacht Regatta) for a poetry performance with a difference as they premiere Barnsley – An Unnatural History, a new and exclusive series of poems and lyrics put to music and performed alongside original and archive film projections created by filmmaker James Lockey. Please note that the event starts outdoors in Mandela Gardens next to the Barnsley Civic theatre and art gallery and behind the iconic Eldon Street cinema, The Parkway, where the performance will be taking place.
Barnsley – An Unnatural History is a poetic and musical happening celebrating Barnsley’s Eldon Street through the lens of its former Natural History Museum.
The exciting artistic collaboration is a celebration of the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ), inspired by animal stories from Eldon Street, with a few surprises along the way. Simon Armitage has been artist-in-residence with the HSHAZ for the past year, exploring Eldon Street and its mythologies, stories and characters, and using Barnsley Archives as a creative resource. Simon was particularly interested in tales of a now almost mythical Natural History Museum that was on the top floor of today’s modern Barnsley Civic until the Sixties.
Barnsley – An Unnatural History is a poetic and musical happening celebrating Barnsley’s Eldon Street through the lens of its former Natural History Museum. The museum was an emporium of fowl and fauna, some of it local, some of it more exotic. When the museum disappeared under somewhat mysterious circumstances, it lived on in memory and anecdote, with only the odd blurred photograph and dusty paperwork as evidence of its existence. Digging into the archives and working with local historians, Simon Armitage and his band LYR have metaphorically recreated the museum as a kind of imaginarium of all things zoological, using it to explore the dream life of Eldon Street past, present and future, and creating an extravaganza of spoken word and soaring harmonics.
Audience members are invited to come dressed in animal-inspired clothes or accessories (or just bring along an animal spirit or two!) as Barnsley – An Unnatural History follows in the spirit of the great circuses and fairs that have tripped through Barnsley, and the beasts that have wandered the town centre – including elephants, and whales atop lorries, the town’s legendary Bunny Run and the animals that still make Eldon Street their natural habitat, from urban foxes to rare moths. This unique and one-time performance puts Eldon Street on the map, but a map where pigeons nest alongside phoenixes, two-headed cattle and other fabulous creatures. The performance will be signed by a British Sign Language interpreter.
LYR (Land Yacht Regatta) are Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, singer-songwriter Richard Walters and multi-instrumentalist/producer Patrick James Pearson. Formed in 2018, LYR are now a firmly established part of the contemporary music scene, with regular radio airplay across the networks, a critically acclaimed debut album, Call In The Crash Team, and over a million streams to their name. They have appeared at several major festivals over the past three years, including Green Man and Bluedot, and completed UK tours and sell-out events at venues such as the Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds.