Art students collaborate with developer to re-design historic Leeds mosaic
The trading and cultural history of Leeds has been set in stone - quite literally - for the benefit of generations to come.
A collaboration between Victoria Leeds, Leeds Arts University and local mosaic artist, Ruth Wilkinson has seen a dilapidated mosaic in Victoria Quarter re-designed and restored.
It was unveiled yesterday (Feb 19) with key features including white arches and black curves, drawing on the design of the shops fronts in the newly launched Victoria Gate, as well as diamond shapes with gold centres featuring a Yorkshire Rose, also both found in Victoria Gate.
To mark the historical significance of the arcades, decorative bands circling the mosaic reflect the ironwork in Victoria Quarter’s ceiling and to complete the mosaic, there are four central images that celebrate the original Victorian trades that once flourished in the arcades.
These include the fruit and vegetable market that was once in County Arcade, the butchers and slaughter houses in the central arcade, the dress makers and haberdashery suppliers and the dance hall that was also in County Arcade.
James Rogers, from Hammerson which manages Victoria Leeds, said: “It has been a fantastic project to work on and we are delighted with the design Ruth and the students have created.
“Victoria is steeped in history and the new mosaic is the perfect way to recognise and celebrate its cultural heritage.”
Prior to the installation, students researched the history of Victoria Quarter, taking photographs and sketches while getting a sense of how to position the mosaic.
The university said it had been essential in providing students, who are studying creative arts degrees, with experience of working on real-life assignments and had given them chance to team up with an established local artist.
Ruth Wilkinson has been developing her skills as a mosaic artist for 15 years and said the project was a welcome challenge.
She added: “It’s been a great project to have been part of as an artist. I enjoy the challenge of working with other people’s ideas and a brief – it pushes me in a direction I may not necessarily have considered otherwise.
“The design incorporates both pictorial representation and pattern from Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate.”