Abbey House is celebrating the glory of sporting success and the bright lights of the stage in its exhibition for 2012. Focussing on Leeds stars and performers, exhibits range from Olympic medals to ventriloquist dummies, rugby shirts to theatre costumes.
Sporting exhibits include medals and trophies won by the Leeds-born championship swimmer Doris Storey in the 1930s. Doris competed at the Berlin Olympic Games and broke the women’s world record for 200m breaststroke in 1938. (The trophies are kindly on loan for the exhibition from her family). The displays also look at professional and amateur sports in Leeds, with displays including a signed rugby shirt from Leeds Rhinos and C.B. Fry’s cricket bat. A set of recently-acquired golf clubs made by Bronty Golf Co. Ltd. are also on show.
The star exhibit in the section on Leeds theatres is an 1898 dress designed for the great Shakespearian actress Ellen Terry who performed may times at the Leeds Grand Theatre with her stage partner Henry Irving. There is also theatrical costume used by the Kirkstall Players around 1910.
Those of a nervous disposition should be warned that the case relating to Music Halls and Variety will include two ventriloquist’s dummies and an advertisement for Padtoeski “The Marvellous Toe Piano Player”.
The displays also take a look at the music scene in Leeds. One features the great choral tradition which started with the first Leeds Musical Festival in 1858. Another looks at classical symphonic and instrumental music, featuring the short-lived Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, the Leeds-born pianist Frederick Dawson and of course the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition. The exhibition also looks at popular music, in particular items collected at the Leeds Festival from 2009-2011.
The section looking at dance includes dance costumes borrowed from the Briggate Morris Dancers, Debbie Fleming owner of ATTITUDE FITNESS Worldwide and De-Napoli Clarke - Artistic Director of RJC Dance. The museum has also recently been donated an Irish dancing costume from the Joyce O'Donnell School of Irish Dancing.