City Stories:
Common Ground

Priestley Hall, Mill Hill Chapel
24 September - 29 October 2023
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
10 am until 4 pm

Lens Lab Project has spent the past year and a half working closely with communities from six of the most represented faiths in our city; gathering stories and capturing portraits of people and place through photography within these thriving communities. City Stories: Common Ground brings together the result of conversations and image-making revealing the extraordinary diversity of everyday lives within the heart of our city’s communities.

City Stories: Common Ground will be held at Mill Hill Chapel inside The Priestly Hall, and brings together a cross-section of activities, images, sound works and conversations as an exhibition and programme. Held within the historic building of project partner Mill Hill Chapel, it offers the public a chance to connect to a vast body of engaging work built through this process. A selection of photographs from City Stories: Common Ground can also be found as part of an installation in the Leeds 2023 Hub in the Trinity Centre throughout the exhibition period.

Leeds is a city of over 170 languages and multiple faiths; in 2022 it was revealed that the UK was no longer a majority Christian country. Lens Lab set out to connect to these communities by making sound and image work across an 18-month process reflecting their commonalities and differences. Alongside their primary purpose of worship, the spaces they occupy allow communities to come together in shared activities: weddings, funerals, religious festivals and celebrations, teaching, rites of passage, and the sharing of food.

Hundreds of years of history have shaped these spaces, the past etched into the wood of the floorboards. Each scuff, mark and scratch are the form of another’s presence. We pass by these spaces every day, without really thinking of them. We imagine we know what is inside, to already be familiar with something so close to us. The Mosque, the Synagogue, the Church - places like these become almost abstract without direct interaction. But spaces like these are what communities are built upon and bloom. City Stories: Common Ground looks at the traces formed in these moments and the rich tapestries that are interwoven by their history.

City Stories: Common Ground was made possible thanks to project partner Mill Hill Chapel and funders Leeds2023 and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.