2000 Lines (2000)


Our ongoing partnership with John Smeaton School led us to work with the whole Family of Schools in Seacroft and Manston: 3 high schools, 17 primaries and a special school. It was Millennium time, the schools wanted to do something important and they were also tasked to raise standards of literacy...indeed to raise the whole status of writing with young people. 


The project was ambitious: to publish a book. But for us it was a natural development of our work using the streets, neighbourhoods and communities that the young people lived in as the starting point for learning. Writers, storytellers, photographers, journalists, graphic designers... each school would have an artist in residence and the material created would be sorted and edited into a book: 2000 Lines.

The book cover itself: Design by Andy Edwards


Now we were working with 21 schools all at once! The key was a strong structure; a steering group of people of different backgrounds who were really committed to making the project happen and named co-ordinators in each school, who met regularly and could get support and ideas from each other as well as from us.


Apart from funding from the Local Education Authority (as it was known back then), this project drew the majority of its funding from Elida Fabergé; a local company wanting to put something back into the community. 

Note: The Company still exists, but once it was taken over by Unilever, that local link and commitment was never as strong again

This book tells a story. It's a story about growing up in a large city at the start of a new Millennium. But what's important about this story is that the children tell it themselves

Kay Mellor

Writer and Director

What We Learned

  • In an ambitious partnership project of this nature, getting the structure in place from the beginning was paramount. The steering group were also the editorial board, and we needed to refer to them: "Is it OK to keep original writing in if it contains spelling mistakes?"...
  • Working from the bottom-up like this, could have real impact within the communities of East Leeds, but also win plaudits further afield–we were awarded the prestigious McNaughtons Design Award for the book

Where Next?

The book was launched in libraries across East Leeds; in the canteen at Elida Fabergé; and in Waterstones in Leeds centre.  We went on to work on films and exhibitions for Leeds' Day in the Dome in Greenwich.

Image from our Day in the Dome exhibition. Design Lizzie Coombes and Christian Lloyd