Threads: a market Mis-Guide

Threads, a Market Mis-Guide  to Leeds Kirkgate Market

part of Personal Shopper: Cornucopia! with Kate Etheridge and Simon Persighetti at Compass Festival 2016.



Inspired by my own visits to the market as a small child, and other interactions with markets over the years, Threads shows why markets are part of my personal history. 

The tour interweaves my stories and memories with those of the people I meet along the way, as a way to explore peoples’ connections to the market and to each other.



The walk explores the market through my personal stories and experiences, and invites the participants to share some of their own along the way.  To do this I use a ball of thread, which I unravel as we walk, and tie knots in to remember each story as it unfolds.



 I’d like you to think about all the people that have walked through the doors of the market hall since its completion in 1857.

What kinds of things would they buy, and how big a part would the market play in their daily lives?

Bear this in mind as we start our journey. 

(Alessi, 2016)



Now stand and think about the first time you ever came to a market, who was it with? What sounds, smells, sights and tastes do you remember?

My first trip to the market was with my Nan when I was about 7yrs old, and I mostly remember trying really hard not to throw up, because I felt so queasy on the bus. But as soon as we walked through the doors I completely forgot about it – there was so much to see…

(Alessi, 2016)



From eating tripe from a brown paper bag and watching an automated monkey somersaulting over a bar at the fruit and veg stall; to teenage rebellion and customising your clothes –  this walk takes the you from childhood to the present day.  Raising questions about how we use markets now and why they are such an important part of our social history.




Threads was a real highlight for me, such a generous and warm piece, that genuinely engaged its audience in a way that sparked memories and associations from audience members  of all ages and diverse geographical backgrounds. Your personal stories and memories were beautifully woven into a journey through the living market, stitching a narrative that celebrates all markets, and our lifelong relationship with these special places of trade, community, and continuity.’





Fri 11 – Sat 19 Nov, 9am-5pm | Tours at various times

In the sensory labyrinth of Leeds Kirkgate Market, Personal Shopper: Cornucopia! is the market in microcosm, a 21st Century Still Life of fruit, fish, textiles, jewellery, frying pans, friends and experiences. Offering a pick-and-mix selection of micro tours led by local shoppers, traders, market enthusiasts and mis-guides, Katie and Simon invite you to navigate the Market through a series of idiosyncratic Personal Shopper tours where poetic, playful and practical insights are intertwined with personal histories, individual passions, and lived experiences.



Personal Shopper: Cornucopia! was the final part of a 3 year project exploring and celebrating the rich network of relationships between shoppers, traders and goods in Leeds Kirkgate Market.  For Compass Festival 2016, Personal Shopper manifest as a stall where you can shop for experiences, rather than things, offering a pick-and-mix selection of micro market tours led by shoppers, traders, market enthusiasts and Mis-Guides.

images by Etheridge/Persighetti & Alessi©2016

I Love Donny


I LOVE DONNY was an installation, using postcards, to create a map of the town through the experiences of the people who live there.  Members of the public were be invited to share their favourite stories and memories of Doncaster, write or sketch these on a postcard and add them to the map.  There was also a Twitter account, allowing people to tweet their responses or go online and read other peoples’ postcards and see the town through someone elses’ eyes.





For more details of what people wrote see

3 September 2016  DNweekeND 3



Do you have a favourite spot in Doncaster? An interesting story, experience, or happy memory to share? Come and write a postcard to Donny – describe the things you love about the town, write or sketch it on a postcard and help create a map of the place and people who live here. Read it, add your own card, and be inspired. You can also ‘tweet’ your experiences to: @ilovedonny2016

The Village of Dreams is at the Village at Waterdale Shopping Centre and will take over empty shops, current businesses and the outside area with interactive performance, arts and crafts, music and more all day Saturday

DNweekeND is a member of the Without Walls Associate Touring Network, a group of festivals and arts organisations working together to extend the reach and benefits of the existing Without Walls programme in areas where there is low engagement with the arts, bringing high quality outdoor work to diverse audiences across England. For more information on the work of Without Walls ATN, please visit: .



images by Hayley Alessi©2016

In the City

In the City…

‘In the City, there’s a thousand things I want to say to you.’ 

One of the Situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”]…

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.

Guy Debord Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November 1956)

Hayley Alessi ©2014


This piece was part of the ‘Selfies’ project detailed below – and my attempt to explore the city of Sheffield through pictures and verbatim text.  As a theatre maker and writer, I often find myself on the fringes, observing people and scribbling down bits of overheard conversation, so I thought this would be an interesting way to structure my own practice and see what happened.


My remit was simple, to spend 2 weeks taking photos around the city on my mobile phone: these could be at any time of day or night, but must not be pre-planned or posed in any way, and had to include my feet.  I would then transcribe the first piece of speech I heard immediately afterwards, which could include one or more voices or conversations, and make a note of the estimated age and sex of the speaker.


I was not allowed to alter or edit the pictures or recorded speech in any way – nor discard or change the order of the pictures.  After the first few photos I also decided to include some instances of my own thoughts and internal dialogue, as and when the mood took me.


The performances took the format of a slideshow, and in putting mine together I decided to remain elusive onstage too, to maintain my flaneur persona.  So the piece opened with a spotlight coming up on my red shoes placed in front of an empty microphone stand on the stage, while I remained behind the scenes reading the script and attempting to embody and portray the variety of characters and voices I had heard on my journey around the city.




A cut-to-fit ready-made template for the single (even reluctant) performer

Forced Entertainment’s Terry O’Connor worked with University of Sheffield and local artists to define a simple new template for short performance pieces, addressed directly to an audience and placed before a selection of self-images. Borrowing contemporary vernacular, we called the performances selfies, though our iteration of the photographic self-portrait extended beyond the use of mobile devices and became a process of inquiry, rather than a simple vanity project.


  1. There must be between 5 and 50 images.
  2.  The performer must appear in each image, though it may have been captured by someone else.
  3. There must be a verbal element to the performance, this may be extensive or limited to one word.
  4. The performance should last between 5 and 15 minutes.
  5. Costume, characterisation, narrative or poetic device, fictional world or confessional revelation are all optional.

Engaging with audience essential.


 images by Hayley Alessi© In the City 2013