Leeds artist's design picked for Quarry Hill sculpture celebrating city's women

Pippa Hale with a model of her sculpture design, Ribbons. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
Pippa Hale with a model of her sculpture design, Ribbons. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

A Leeds artist has been picked to design a new sculpture to celebrate the achievements of women in the city.

Pippa Hale was chosen out of four shortlisted entrants for her design, Ribbons, which will be placed at Quarry Hill.

Professor Simone Wonnacott, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Arts University, and Rachel Reeves MP. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Professor Simone Wonnacott, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Arts University, and Rachel Reeves MP. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

The YEP-backed artwork, an idea developed by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Leeds Arts University and Leeds City Council aims to redress the gender balance of public sculpture with an avant-garde approach.
Pippa said: “I am thrilled that my proposal has been selected by the panel! It’s a huge honour to create a new art work for my home city that celebrates the women of Leeds – and in such a prestigious location too.

"The work will be a timely addition to the city’s sculpture offer that puts women centre stage, be they historical figures or the unsung heroes of today.

"Women make a massive contribution to our city – creatively, economically and socially – and this is an opportunity to celebrate them.”

Four artists - Pippa, Zsófia Jakab' from Hungary, Briony Marshall from London and Wendy Briggs from Bedfordshire - were shortlisted and had the opportunity to exhibit models of their proposed designs at the Blenheim Walk Gallery at Leeds Arts University.

Visitors to the exhibition were given the chance to contribute to the selection process, providing feedback which was taken into consideration by the judging panel.

Pippa's concept was chosen unanimously, and was also the favourite with the public too.

Her design is for five Corten steel ribbons with the names of women past and present laser-cut into it.
Speaking previously to the YEP, she said: "The idea is that these ribbons would weave their way through the city, through the pavements and so on, perhaps rising up in places to create little benches or low-level walkways for kids to play on, but at Quarry Hill they'll sort of come together, rise up out of the ground and [create a] fluttering dance."

Professor Simone Wonnacott, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Arts University said: “I am delighted that the winning artist is someone who is passionate about Leeds and whose sculpture is not only stunning, but also represents women both past and present with the opportunity to celebrate women who are quietly achieving and contributing to society.”

Rachel Reeves, Member of Parliament for Leeds West, added: “After launching this project over two years ago it’s incredibly exciting to be that much closer to seeing a sculpture that truly celebrates the women of Leeds installed in the city. Pippa’s is a great design that really champions the achievements of women across our city through public art.

"I’m delighted that so many people came to see the exhibition and gave their views and backing for this project, and I hope many more will see the sculpture when it is installed next year and work with us as we turn this vision in to reality.”

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We’re thrilled to be supporting this piece and to see an artist with such a distinctive talent and creative vision becoming part of the city’s cultural landscape.

"Leeds proudly celebrates the achievements of the many women whose individual struggles and accomplishments have helped make our city the place it is today and this new artwork will stand as an example of inclusion and progress for future generations.”

The chosen artwork will be located between Leeds City College’s new Quarry Hill campus and the newly redeveloped Leeds Playhouse.

Its will be placed prominently at the top of a green area visible from Eastgate and The Headrow as part of wider development in the area, which is also home to BBC Yorkshire and Northern Ballet.

Supporters of the project include Leeds City College, LeedsBID (Leeds Business Improvement District) and Caddick Developments.

The exhibition at Leeds Arts University will remain open until Thursday July 4 to give visitors the chance to see work by the four shortlisted artists alongside examples of work from other cities to highlight the broader context for women's representation in public across the UK.