California-based artist helps brighten up Leeds suburb

A California-based artist has helped brighten up a corner of Headingley by generously donating a day of her time free of charge to create a mural for the local community.
Californian artist Ursula Xanthe YoungCalifornian artist Ursula Xanthe Young
Californian artist Ursula Xanthe Young

Ursula X Young, who frequently exhibits in the San Francisco Bay area and has sold paintings all over the world, offered to create her first UK mural in Headingley for a project to help “beautify the area”.

Organised by the Ash Road Area Residents’ Association, it follows similar schemes including painting eye-catching art on Virgin communication boxes, street planters and stones on grass verges.

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Today (Tuesday) Ursula - who grew up in Skipton but has worked as a professional muralist in California for many years - has painted a giant 22ft by 18ft mural on the back wall of the Cutting Corner barbers on North Lane in Headingley.

The stunning image depicts a skyline, buildings and huge red poppies, with the support of the building’s owner and local (Lab) councillors Neil Walshaw, Al Garthwaite and Jonathan Pryor.

Ruth Overy, a member of the Ash Road Area Residents’ Association, said: “I love her work, I think we’re really lucky.”

Ruth said the wall had been covered in graffiti - something which she says seems to be happening more in the area - so it was a prime spot to receive Ursula’s talented handiwork.

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She said: “Anything that gives you a lift as you’re walking through is just wonderful. The Virgin communication boxes still give us a lift, it’s amazing how it works. People just like the area, they love to live here - it’s just a positive environment.”

The painting has taken place during a visit home to see her family and Ursula told the YEP: “I love doing murals wherever I go. This is the first English mural I’ve done. I grew up not far from here and wanted to do one in this area. It’s nice to bring one back home.”

She added: “Bringing art to people on the streets is important because it brings it into the lives of people who don’t always have it. It’s also nice to brighten up streets that have been neglected.

“I’ve had lots of positive comments already from passersby saying it’s nice to brighten up the wall.”