Have you seen the artwork at the Albion Street entrance to Trinity shopping centre? I love it and wish there was more.
The art just part of the story though for this new project at Trinity, which we reported on last week (and there’ll be more to come). The empty shop units near this entrance are going to become short-let shops - but these will not be your average pop-ups. Each unit will showcase some creative work - maybe someone you’ve heard of, maybe students from Leeds University of Art, or an up-and coming fashion designer. There will be a rotating line-up of brands, designers, artists, and musicians which are totally different from the usual high street and chain brands.
The staff who greet you will know the products, they’ll be interested and informed about what they’re selling. I know this, because I managed to catch up with Darren Rudland, of Black Box (branded BLK BX), whose concept this is. It was he who asked Olly Walker to commission the artists and as we chatted, surrounded by the new vibrant artwork, his enthusiasm for a different kind of shop and shopping experience was palpable. But why Leeds?
His answer was clear, the council, Leeds BID, Landsec and Trinity welcomed him and his ideas and had the courage to say yes to something new. They’ve been hugely supportive in helping to navigate the red tape. They know the high street desperately needs this kind of innovation.
It was ironic that as I stood there I remembered what one of the units used to be - the Athena poster shop - a shop I’d journey specially to Leeds to visit. Art for the masses 1980s style. Things never quite come full circle but bringing great art and design to a wider audience surely will never go out of fashion.