Leeds Art Gallery set to re-open later this year

By Rebecca Longbottom

Leeds Art Gallery are working with local artists and communities as part of their upcoming relaunch and how the re-opening could help Leeds in their bid for the title of European Capital of Culture 2023.

Following its closure in early January last year, Leeds Art Gallery will re-open and transform the experience for visitors in early October. After over 18 months without access to the gallery, essential repairs to the historic original roof and Victorian building are almost complete.

A welcome discovery was made in the form of a beautiful barrel vaulted glazed roof on one of the first floor galleries. This stunning structure had remained hidden above a false ceiling for over 40 years. Upon re-opening, this newly refurbished gallery will be revealed to the public for the first time, spilling new light in.


Outside Leeds Art Gallery by Rebecca Longbottom

Being one of the most visited galleries outside London with just under half a million guests each year, Leeds Art Gallery has designated collections of 19th and 20th century British paintings and sculptures that are widely considered to be the best outside the national collections.

Highlights to expect from the re-opening include the Artist Room Joseph Beuys exhibition, and the gallery will showcase new acquisitions by leading American contemporary artist Martine Syms and acclaimed British sculptor Alison Wilding RA.

Although collections are nationally and internationally acquired, Leeds Art Gallery displays the importance of working with local Leeds based artists and gives the chance for community groups and schools to see the works Leeds Art Gallery are proud to keep.

Sarah Brown, Principal Keeper at Leeds Art Gallery said: “We’re delighted to be opening Leeds Art Gallery after much-needed repair work to this beautiful building. We’re working with artists that live and work in Leeds so there’s a couple of artists who have been working with the architecture and the collections.

“Since we’ve been closed over the last 18 months, we’ve been taking works from the collection out into schools and community groups. We’ve been lending works all over the world; works have been lent from the collections that have never been lent before.”

Leeds Art Gallery are keen to reach out to communities who don’t necessarily visit them. Working and cooperating with other galleries means everyone gets the chance to experience art and culture on their doorstep.

Excited to reveal to the public what the gallery has to hold in October  and what it will add to the cities culture, Leeds City Council announce the city is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture 2023. The competition can only be hosted by the UK five times per century and was last hosted in 2008 when Liverpool won the title.

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake said: “Leeds Art Gallery is a wonderful and iconic element of our city’s fantastic cultural offer and we cannot wait to see the galleries open their doors to the public once again this October.

“Now that we are now moving full steam ahead with our 2023 European Capital of Culture bid, it is brilliant to see the return of Leeds Art Gallery which, internationally recognised and celebrated, will offer another timely reminder of why our bid is so varied and strong.”

Sarah added: “One of the things we’re really keen to do is work in areas of the city we recognised a lot of people don’t come to the gallery from so we’ve done a lot of outreach work.

“It’s about the gallery not just to be in the gallery. It’s really about connecting with artists and audiences in the city.

“We also work close with other arts organisations such as Pavilion, The Tetley and East Street Art”.

The Tetley, a centre for contemporary art, works closely with Leeds Art Gallery and other galleries across the city to ensure there is always an opportunity to promote artist programmes.

Bryony Bond, Creative Director at The Tetley said: “We meet up regularly with colleagues from other galleries and are always finding good opportunities to support and cross-promote each other’s programmes and activities. We worked with Leeds Art Gallery when British Art Show 8 was on and we’ve timed our late opening to coincide with the Henry Moore Institute.

the tetley

Jem Finer: Spiegelei outside The Tetley by Rebecca Longbottom

The Tetley takes a different approach when working with local artists compared to Leeds Art Gallery. They display artists’ work who are just starting their career and some who already have experience.

Bryony added: “Showcasing the work of early career to mid-scale artists is all part of The Tetley’s goals. We want to provide a platform for artists here, alongside national and international artists.

“The Tetley plays a critical role in helping artists develop their practice by creating, curating, exhibiting and learning.”

Like Leeds Art Gallery, The Tetley works with communities who may not come to the contemporary art centre by holding clubs and creating projects inspired by their programme.

Bryony added: “The focus of our community work is largely in South Leeds and we work closely with South Leeds through offering free family workshops every other Saturday, and hold an After School Club for primary schools based in South Leeds where students take part in regular free creative activities at The Tetley.”

Throughout summer, people of Leeds will get to experience a summer festival in Victoria Gardens.

Sarah said: “During the summer we’re going to be doing a big summer festival in Victoria Gardens where we’ll be working with community groups prior to the re-opening of Leeds Art Gallery.”

Leeds Art Gallery will re-open on Friday 13th October. For further information and updates, click here.

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North Bar exhibits art from local cycling clothing company

By Rebecca Longbottom

Throughout March and April, North Bar on New Briggate Street exhibited non-traditional forms of art with photography from Paria, a cycling clothing company based in Leeds.

North Bar pride themselves in their vast array of beers, but it is also the home of regular art exhibitions from local artists in and around Leeds.  The bar experience a number of cyclist punters and with the showing  of Tour De Flanders and fast-selling selling Belgium beers, it made sense to exhibit Paria.

James Downing, 31, Deputy General Manager at North Bar said: “If people come in just for the booze they see something they wouldn’t necessarily go out of their way to see and they enjoy it.”

“We have a big cycling community that come through here so we were approached to see if we could exhibit some of Paria’s photos of people around the world wearing their stuff.”

North Bar are especially interested and supportive of local art to inspire people when they don’t always expect it, and are always searching for new and exciting art to exhibit.

James added: “Our aesthetic is to be as unpretentious as possible so I guess we try and bring in art work that matches that, but it’s all open to interpretation.

“People look for inspiration everywhere so I think local art is important if you’re just out and about.”

Like North Bar, Paria believe the importance of local art in communities. The cycling clothing company incorporating local artists has been significantly beneficial for them.

Sam Morgan, owner of Paria said: “We wanted to offer a real point of difference to our competitive set at a base level. All of our artists are from Leeds, and it has been good to link back to the locality.”

Although North Bar may seem like an everyday bar to some, it helps raise awareness of importance to local companies, people and other artists.

Sam added: “Local art has definitely improved in previous years. Venues like North Bar, the more non-traditional exhibitor areas, have really helped.  There is some amazing talent, but it’s gaining the awareness and profile.

“Seeing a direct reaction to what we do is amazing, and also gives us something to be proud of. Supporting North Bar in their offering allows us to build local links, and just give something back.”

For more information on Leeds and art, click here.

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“It’s about freedom”- New record shop Noiseisforheroes opens

By Rebecca Longbottom

From punk to pop: Leeds welcomes brand new record shop Noiseisforheros on striving Great George Street.

The last sixth months has seen Great George Street welcome new cafés including the popular Fettle, but new record shop owner Chris Coulthard saw this as an opportunity for something different.

front of record shop

Front of new record shop Noiseisforheroes by Rebecca Longbottom

His interest in records began when he started collecting them from a young age, which led him to work at fairs and renowned Vinyl Tap in Huddersfield. Collecting a house full of records meant it was time for somewhere permanent.

Chris said: “I just noticed more people were taking an interest in records other than the diehards who had never given up.

“I thought it would be great to get somewhere closer to town and this is such a beautiful street. I was just surprised how it was affordable.

“I think this is a street that needs something other than a café and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Cafés are great, but it’s the sort of street where there is room for something like this and everything seems to complement each other.”

GG street

Great George Street, Leeds by Rebecca Longbottom

Chris sells a wide range of genres, but he is from the punk background, with the name of the shop being a lyric by The Damned. It is his punk personality which he believes will make his record shop unique to others in Leeds.

He added: “It’s about freedom and that’s exactly what’s reflected here. It’s about freedom of choice. It’s about been into all sorts of things.

“A friend to me said you are the shop that’s the thing. Just been somewhere where people aren’t intimidated and enjoy the experience is really important and they’re allowed to browse without any sense of feeling like they’re been judged or anything because music’s personal, it’s their business not mine.”

Record action shot

Flicking through genres in Noiseisforheroes by Rebecca Longbottom

Popular record shops such as Jumbo Records, which has moved back to the Merrion Centre to expand, is no competition for Noiseisforheroes, but more of a cooperation.

Chris said: “I’m glad we’re not next door to each other, but at the same time you can go to different stores for different reasons. If you want a brand new album I probably won’t have it, I’m predominantly second hand.”

Nearly two months since the opening and the future is bright for Noiseisforheroes, with Chris looking into selling band tickets and supporting local bands and labels.

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