South Leeds artist uses the power of public art to tackle antisocial behaviour in his neighbourhood

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A south-Leeds neighbourhood has just welcomed its newest resident - but they don't talk much!

Made with seven tonnes of Tadcaster limestone, and standing nine feet tall, the new Jacob's Ladder sculpture, by artist Keith Ackerman was carved almost entirely by hand for just over a year.

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Sited just off Tunstall Road, the piece was commissioned by Bruce Davies, a local artist and curator and nearby BasementArts Project, after originally seeing a smaller version of the piece in a synagogue in north Leeds.

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Bruce Davies, with the sculpture, off Tunstall Road.Bruce Davies, with the sculpture, off Tunstall Road.
Bruce Davies, with the sculpture, off Tunstall Road.

"I asked Keith to make a scaled up version," said Bruce. "He asked how big, and I said 'about nine foot'. He said 'okay'!

"We have worked on it in public since last May after taking it from the quarry.

"People are interested in it as they walk past, and sometimes they sat and watched while work took place on it. Sometimes they asked questions and told us stories and it's been interesting."

He added that the imposing sculpture has even led to fewer instances of antisocial behaviour in the area - as it is a wooded patch of grass away from the roads.

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"That piece of land has been the site of antisocial behaviour in the past five or six years, but now we are at the stage where there seems to have been a downturn in the amount of antisocial activity.

"Every time I go past, there are always people sitting on the stones we use as benches.

"No one was going there before, but now, because there are people there, it feels more lively and it's being overseen by so many people.

This is not the end, either, as Bruce wants to work with the community to transform the ground around the sculpture into an "inner-city pocket sculpture park".

For more information on Bruce's work, visit

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