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LEEDS 2023 teams up with artists and photographers to raise smiles in the community

Four women stood outside in Armley Park, infront of a sculpture of a giant red horse which is covered in crochet.
Artists from Assembly House and Hookers & Clickers at the installation of their magnificent horse statues in Armley Park

It’s been a busy few weeks for LEEDS 2023. We’ve been ‘Letting Culture Loose’ at our launch event at Left Bank Leeds, running virtual drop-in sessions for artists keen to get involved with our ambitious plans for the city, and chatting to supporters and partners about our ultimate goal of reaching every person in Leeds with our future programme of events.

We strongly believe culture in all its forms can play a leading role in the recovery of our city and the wider region. To give you a little taste of some of the kinds of things you can expect in 2023, we’ve also been teaming up with various creative organisations across Leeds to help bring a number of exciting projects to life, each one taking place out in the community.

Lincoln Green residents step back in time with Lens Lab Leeds

Leeds-based photographers Benedict Phillips and Jonathan Turner – known collectively as Lens Lab Leeds – have been taking their mobile darkroom to the streets of Lincoln Green for a brand new portrait project in collaboration with LEEDS 2023. Using contemporary digital photography alongside the more antiquated collodion wet plate process, the project saw them take photos of residents in two starkly different ways, then juxtapose them side by side.

“Art is for everybody. It doesn’t matter where you live.” – Jonathan Turner, Lens Lab Leeds

The local participants were amazed by both the old-fashioned technology on display and the end results, with everyone receiving a physical copy of their portrait to mark the occasion. “We’re not necessarily bringing culture here,” Benedict said. “What we’re doing is revealing the culture that already exists.” Whichever way you choose to look at it, Lens Lab Leeds have succeeded in capturing something truly special – this singular moment in the history of their community, never to be repeated again.

Pyramid of Arts use sculpture to discover, develop and disrupt at Meanwood Park

A set of brightly-coloured abstract sculptures have gone on display in the centre of Meanwood Park, all thanks to a new project that saw Leeds-based artist Emma Hardaker joining forces with the team at Pyramid of Arts. Commissioned by LEEDS 2023, the sculptures were developed through a series of workshops over a number of months, each carefully designed to reflect and celebrate individual artists from Pyramid. 

“We work together to explore and develop our creativity and to make great art for as wide a public as possible.” – James Hill, Pyramid of Arts

First set up as The Arts Club within the walls of Meanwood Park Hospital over 30 years ago, Pyramid is a charity that supports artists with learning disabilities. Their mission is to help people with a learning disability discover the arts and develop their talent through collaborative groups and one-on-one support. The eye-catching sculptures are a manifestation of their ethos – proudly on display in the middle of a large public area, they aim to stimulate conversation around the barriers that prevent artists with learning disabilities from being recognised, supported and celebrated.

Beautifully decorated horse statues gallop into Armley courtesy of Assembly House and Hookers & Clickers

Armley-based Assembly House have partnered up with local knitting and crochet group Hookers & Clickers to celebrate the area’s rich industrial history. Backed by LEEDS 2023, this visually striking project saw the installation of two giant red horse statues in Armley Park, each adorned with a majestic collage reflecting aspects of the local area.

Assembly House – an artists studio, project space and community arts organisation based in old Victorian Mill – is currently home to 45 artists from different backgrounds operating in a variety of mediums. Local artists Amelia Wood and Rosie Vohra used the space to design and build the monumental horses, then worked in collaboration with a selection of textile artists to decorate them.

“It’s been brilliant to be a part of this, it’s just really terrific.” – Boss Lady Jo, Hookers & Clickers

Seventy five distinct pieces of artwork were hand-knitted, crocheted, sewn and embroidered by the volunteers at Hookers & Clickers, a community of like-minded people who use their skills with knitting needles and crochet hooks for charitable causes. The end result speaks for itself, with park visitors and passers-by treated to the spectacular sight of two enormous horses raised up on their hind legs, each clothed in a resplendent patchwork of local art crafted with care and love. 

Do you want to be part of LEEDS 2023? You can get involved as an artist through our live open calls, partner with us as a business or organisation or sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date with our news, events and opportunities.