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Powerful Exhibition Celebrating Northern Identity Turned into Book

  • 9th August 2018
  • Posted by Leeds 2023

Set to launch at an event on 24 August, at Colours May Vary and The Gallery at 164 in Leeds city centre, the ‘These Northern Types’ book will feature stunning images of the artworks that comprise the exhibition. Adding to the powerful visuals will be a variety of written contributions from some of the region’s leading talents, including 2018 Walter Scott Prize winning author, journalist and poet Benjamin Myers and musician Boff Whalley, offering further insight and discussion around northern identity.

Incredibly thought-provoking, ‘These Northern Types’, created by Oli Bentley, creative director of Leeds-based design studio, Split, launched at Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley in June 2018 for a month-long run. By popular demand, the exhibition will re-open at Colours May Vary between 23 August and 15 September. It simultaneously celebrates Northern identity whilst asking probing questions about our relationship to place within a globalised world, through the exploration of social division, class, racism and the perception of others to the culture of the region.

Supported by Leeds 2023, as part of its Bid for European Capital of Culture, and Arts Council England, the book and exhibition is the culmination of two years of works by Oli. Developed alongside a team of writers, makers, printers, metal workers and engineers, sociologists, poets and musicians, Oli and his team worked with a cross section of the city’s multi-cultural community to shape the works.

The book launch, which will begin at 6pm, is open to all and will include DJ’s from The Leaf Label, drinks from North Brewing Co and printing on one of the key works from the exhibition, the giant ‘People Powered Press’, built by local engineering firm JKN Oil Tools.

Commenting on the book launch, Oli said: “I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback we’ve had on These Northern Types so far and I’m delighted to be launching the book, which will be available to buy from this August. It will allow a wider audience to see the work and will hopefully spark even more conversation around the issues and themes we have highlighted.

“I became fascinated by this vague, community-owned thing we call northern identity, which was my inspiration for this project. These Northern Types explores these themes, as well as our relationship to place more generally, from a variety of angles and in a variety of styles. I hope it asks some interesting and timely questions about not only what it means to be from the north, but what it means to be from anywhere in today’s globalised world.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to work with notable local writers, poets, academics and musicians, including Benjamin Myers and Boff Whalley. Their contribution to this project has been invaluable. Their words perfectly support the works presented in the exhibition, giving them greater depth and making for a really varied and exciting book.”

Benjamin Myers, author, journalist and contributor to These Northern Types, said: “I’ve always been fascinated by regional dialects and the strong identity of the North of England, and it was great to be involved in a project that explores this topic in such detail.

“For me, These Northern Types is a celebration of the North and a chance to broaden perceptions of the region and what it means to be northern. I was pleased to be able to bring an anecdotal perspective into the book, highlighting my relationship with Northern music and culture, and how the region continues to inspire my work. I think it’s extremely important that projects like these are supported to enable the creative industries to continue to flourish in our region, so it’s fantastic to see the book in print.”

These Northern Types will be on display at Colours May Vary and The Gallery at 164 in Leeds between 23 August and 15 September 2018. Tickets to the launch are available here.

The book will be available to buy from Colours May Vary and online from


IMAGE: These Northern Types, Sunny Bank Mills, 2018