Leeds today: Martin, Kippax, Vreeland, LOL, Manor, insulation, trains, cubes and Auckland.

Happy Monday Readers, Naziya here, thinking longingly about that autumnal sunshine yesterday, unlike, I suspect, Jonny Brownlee down in Auckland who captured a world triathlon title on Sunday morning. Hoorah, perhaps now he’ll return to running around the Meanwood Valley trail and give us dog walkers thrills at the suggestion of a tenuous sighting. We may soon be lauding the talents of Leeds’ Thai boxers as the growing popularity of the sport ensured that Elland Road hosted the biggest ever Thai boxing show last Saturday night. Over at the Northener blog there was a précis of Xtreme Combat as well as interviews with the participating fighters.

My art course has me visiting various exhibitions within touching distance (Sarah Lucas at The Henry Moore Institute, Concrete Pie! Snigger) so I’m madly interested in the news here will soon be a new heritage arts centre on the banks of the River Aire when Castleford Heritage trust takes over the old Allinson’s mill. The hugely ambitious project wishes to transform the site into not only an art and sculpture gallery but a community space for classes in traditional artisan crafts such as bakery (using the stone mill wheels to grind the needed flour), boat building and stone masonry. Architecture students from Leeds Met Uni are to begin design work on the building which may end up as a rival in stature for the elegant concrete cubes of the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield.  The outcome of the RIBA Stirling national architecture prize continues to stir up angst and joining the ranting bloggers this weekend was the disappointed Hepworth’s director, Simon Wallis.

To continue with the theme of construction (or indeed sculpture) will the anticipated train station and regeneration at Kirkstall forge be finally on its way? Originally planned as a development back in 2003, the recession put the knockers on the project with Leeds city council now agreeing a multi-million pound loan to the site buyers to get things going again. The council have also been awarded £4 million pounds from the government’s regional growth fund for flood defence plans for businesses that line Leeds’ waterfront. Near misses over the last decade have the city’s bosses worried that a major aquatic disaster will floor the region’s economy should our wet seasons become a disgusting habit. Whilst not exactly on the waterfront, Clarence Dock is close enough and it gets a mention for housing the celebrity chef run The Leeds Kitchen which has made it into the Michelin guide. Well done James Martin who tonight is not cooking but signing books at Leeds’ Waterstones.

This is Big Energy Saving Week from Leeds City Council who apart from offering a drop in centre in Chapeltown for advice is reminding people to take up an offer of free insulation (runs out Friday) and loan energy monitoring devices from their local libraries. They also prompt us to check on our friends and neighbours for anyone suffering needlessly from the cold.

LOL is talking about IndependentLeeds.com, a new website that aims to pull together the best and hippest indie happenings in the virtual and real worlds. LOL explains the concept is driven by collaborations between Hebe Media (parent company of LOL), the Leeds Retail association and a PR company but content will also be supplied by Leeds College of Art and Leeds Met. The site has a glossy telephone directory air which will probably become more culturally informative as content is added but until then we still have the bloggy feel of LeedsLoveAffair who have, at the moment, an up an insider’s interview with Manor Drive a new online Leeds based dress agency. Lastly, fashion lovers need to head down to Hyde Park Picture House who are screening a biopic of Diana Vreeland, the mother of all fashion mavens, until Wednesday.

Our festivals are still going strong, Yorkshire Wool week comes to a close today but there’s still time to nip over to Armley Mills to see a collection of fashionable woollen memorabilia such as the Bond tuxedo, Love Arts continues with comedy added to its run of exhibitions and presentations on mental health and Frankie Boyle is at the Town Hall tomorrow to ‘offer the inchoate laughter of despair to a culture in freefall.’ Crikey.

Not sure what Boyle would make of the YEP’s dedication to animal loveliness then (if they keep finding em’, I’ll keep telling ya). Keep the despair at bay by reading about Brodie the Staffie Cross from Kippax who saved her owner’s life from a house fire.

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