Details of major new arts festival in Leeds revealed

Leeds Light Night at the Civic Hall in 2014.  Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Leeds Light Night at the Civic Hall in 2014. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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Celebrating the return of the British Art Show to Leeds after more than 25 years, Leeds City Council has announced the full details of a new arts festival, Unfold.

Over 75 venues, studio spaces, arts organisations,

collectives and pop-ups are involved in the festival which begins on Thursday and runs until January 10, 2016, from nationally renowned venues such as The Henry Moore Institute and The Hepworth Wakefield to local stalwarts such as East Street Arts, &Model, The Tetley and Harewood House Contemporary.

New public art commissions will also bring contemporary art

onto the streets of Leeds.

The council described Unfold and the British Art Show as major milestones for the city ahead of the upcoming bid for the European Capital of Culture 2023.

Councillor Judith Black, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “It’s an absolute privilege for Leeds to be hosting an event as prestigious as the British Art Show and an ambitious statement about our credentials as a city that celebrates and promotes art and culture.

“It’s been 25 years since we last hosted this event and in that time our city’s art scene has grown and flourished in so many new and exciting ways. This will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase this to the world, as well as being a massive boost to our bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2023.

“We are also excited that, alongside BAS8, the Unfold programme will celebrate the quality and diversity of the sector taking in galleries, studios, pop-ups and artist collectives.”

Among the highlights of Unfold is ‘Light Night’ this Friday, 6-11pm, when the city’s most iconic landmarks will be transformed into works of art, with illuminations covering the façades of some of Leeds’ most recognizable buildings alongside spectacles on the streets of Leeds including dance performances and interactive games.

Also during the new festival will be public art commissions featuring ‘Superleeds’ by Supermundane, a 14-metre artwork installed on a pedestrian footbridge which is described as a playful bubblegum-hued work that shifts and changes as pedestrians walk by; Dreams of Milkwood at Leeds Central Library, a multi-sensory installation inspired by Dylan Thomas’ famous poem which draws on themes of memory,

dreams and community.

Elsewhere and two artwork commissions created with the support of Leeds BID are included on the festival programme, one located in the train station, while the other, a mural, will be located at Kirkgate Market.

These new pieces of public art will join other highlights such as the Dark Arches in the Neville Street Tunnel by German arts Hans Peter Kuhn; Graeme Wilson’s Cornucopia near the Corn Exchange and ATM’s giant wall mural of a bird, entitled Linnet, on Sheaf Street.

Martino Gamper’s ‘Post Forma’, commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, will see the Italian designer collaborate with local Yorkshire weavers, bookbinders, cobblers and chair caners. Exploring shared craft techniques as social activities which bring people together, ‘Post Forma’

invites members of the public to bring broken objects to be fixed and transformed into unique craft items, with artisan-led workshops and craft demonstrations.

A large working loom installed in the gallery will reference Yorkshire’s history as an international hub for the textile


There will also be art walks and studio visits, including ‘Leeds Art Crawl’, exploring the city’s most distinctive public artworks. Participating studios include East Street Arts, Roundhay Open Studios, and Leeds Sculpture Workshop.

There are also several new exhibitions including The Feast Wagon at The Tetley and Project Radio at &Model, East Parade, as well as further projects across the city as part of About Time, exploring the relationship between art and globalization.

Exhibitions and events highlighting links between creativity and mental wellbeing will include Inkwell, an arts space run by Leeds Mind, and the Arts and Minds Network, an organisation funded by the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Neil McNally.

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