Blue plaque is hands-on tribute to Leeds sculptor

Robert Hiscox at the plaque unveiling ceremony.
Robert Hiscox at the plaque unveiling ceremony.
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His striking sculpture of a pair of outstretched hands has provided a talking point for visitors to Leeds’s Millennium Square for nearly 20 years.

But yesterday Kenneth Armitage’s 16ft-high Both Arms bronze had to share the limelight for once as heritage experts unveiled a new tribute to the sculptor.

Leeds Civic Trust’s latest blue plaque is situated next to the sculpture and celebrates the life and work of Roundhay-born Mr Armitage, who studied at Leeds College of Art and died aged 85 in 2002.

Both Arms was famously inaugurated by Nelson Mandela when he visited Leeds in 2001.

Leeds Civic Trust director Martin Hamilton said: “We are delighted to add Kenneth Armitage to the list of figures from the arts who have been awarded blue plaques, ranging from pioneering band leader Ivy Benson to celebrated author and academic JRR Tolkien.”

He added: “The name of Kenneth Armitage is quite rightly spoken of in the same breath as those of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth who also studied at Leeds College of Art, and underlines the important role played by Leeds and West Yorkshire in the field of sculpture.”

Yesterday’s unveiling was carried out by Robert Hiscox, the chair of the Kenneth Armitage Foundation, which has sponsored the plaque.

He said: “I was delighted to be asked to unveil the blue plaque in honour of Kenneth Armitage. He is one of the most important sculptors produced by this country in the time since his birth just over 100 years ago, and it is particularly fitting that we honour him in Leeds – the place of his birth and upbringing, and next to his sculpture Both Arms.”

Leeds Civic Trust has put up over 150 plaques since the 1980s, each one honouring an important figure, organisation or building from the city’s past.

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