Poignant pictures in Leeds street art project

Artist Paul Hudson at work in Headingley. PIC: Tony Johnson
Artist Paul Hudson at work in Headingley. PIC: Tony Johnson
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A freelance artist is honouring his late wife by reproducing her artwork on a large scale as part of a unique street art project in Leeds.

Paul Hudson, 68, is one of a number of artists and residents who have volunteered to paint Virgin Media Communication boxes across Headingley in bid to brighten up the area.

The project has been organised by ARARA - Ash Road Area Residents’ Association - after the telecoms giant agreed to offer up the boxes for decoration.

Paul’s wife Susan Gamson was also a freelance artist, before she died from dementia in 2015 at the age of 67.

One of her favourite subjects to draw were her shoes - and it is a sample of this work which Paul has reproduced onto the media box on Otley Road.

Paul said: “She loved just sitting down and drawing. She would draw on postcards and send them to her friends but fortunately she also kept some and they’re what I’m using for the box.”

Susan was diagnosed with dementia a few years before she died and sadly one of the first things she lost was the ability to draw.

“It was very quick. It seemed to be quick to me. She very quickly lost her ability to speak and before that she was unable to hold pencils and pens.”

He said it has been nice to be able to permanently exhibit her work in his neighbourhood .

“It is in the middle of Headingley so I will pass it on a daily basis.”

Also as part of the street art project, calligrapher Ellie Heywood is spelling out the Bob Dylan lyric ‘May you stay forever young’ on the small media boxes.

Jane Thompson, of ARARA, said: “We continue to have terrific luck with our project – more talented artists coming forward to offer skills and time, and ongoing support from the Council, Virgin and from Urban Hygiene who supplies special lacquer [to protect the artwork]. The local South Baptist Church ran a workshop with some of the artists, talking about personal journeys and listening to how the decorated boxes give a smile and a spring in the step to many of those passing by.”

Local resident Katie Hughes said the boxes have brought “colour and creativity” to the neighbourhood.

“Each box is so individual and they bring us joy every time we pass them. Sometimes the streets of Headingley can look a bit sad and neglected, but these splashes of colour cheer them right up,” she said.

ORGANISERS’ COMMUNITY PRIDE

One of the project organisers, Jane Thompson, of ARARA, said: “We continue to have terrific luck with our project – more talented artists coming forward to offer skills and time, and ongoing support from the Council, Virgin and from

Urban Hygiene who supplies special lacquer [to protect the artwork]. The local South Baptist Church ran a workshop with some of the artists, talking about personal journeys and listening to how the decorated boxes give a smile and a

spring in the step to many of those passing by.”