At the end of last month, we took a trip up to Leeds. Throughout the pandemic we’d heard news that Leeds’ street art scene had really started to take off. We were eager to check it out for ourselves.
We first headed towards The Calls, east of the train station. In the last couple of years several large feature walls have been painted in this part of the city.
Our first find was Manchester based artist Akse P19’s ‘Paving the Way’ mural. It was commissioned by Leeds United in 2020 and features former club players Albert Johanneson and Lucas Radebe, alongside the current Leeds-born midfielder Kalvin Phillips. Akse is renowned for his photo realistic artwork. You don’t need to be a Leeds fan to appreciate this beautiful mural.
Our next discovery was Anthony Burrill’s ‘You & Me, Me & You’ mural. It was created to bring a message of hope in the first year of the global pandemic.
On the corner of High Court and Wharf Street, at the end of The Calls, is the headquarters of Meatless Farm. The whole of the building’s facade is one giant abstract artwork by street artist Mr Penfold. For many years, Sheffield had a great collab piece by this artist, and others, on the side of the Harley.
Just up the road from the Meatless Farm building we found a feature wall by street artist INSA. This wall, painted back in 2020, apparently absorbs carbon and actively purifies the air. INSA is originally from Leeds, but his artwork can be found all over the world.
From The Calls, we crossed the River Aire and walked along to Leeds Dock where the Royal Armouries are based.
As we crossed the river via Centenary Bridge we spotted this colourful barge. It was transformed by Benjamin Craven and Jenny Beard in 2019. Next to it is a beautiful mural of a grey heron (we’re not sure who the artist is).
Our next stop was Brewery Place, where we found possibly my favourite mural of the day. Ralph Replete’s ‘Washing Marine’ uses forced perspective to achieve a distinctive 3D effect. It features a deep-sea diver climbing out of a washing machine.
Further up the river, just passed the Royal Armouries are a couple of artworks by Affix. Anyone who has taken a stroll along the canal in Sheffield will be familiar with his work. ‘Faces of Leeds’ features portraits of well known Leeds folk: broadcaster John Craven, Sue Ryder CMGOBE, playwright Alan Bennett and boxer Nicola Adams OBE.
Affix’s second mural, is next to ‘Faces of Leeds’ on the waterfront. ‘Wildlife’ is more like his recognisable work in Sheffield. It features animals found along the River Aire.
After enjoying our walk along the river, we headed back towards the city centre.
On Kirkgate we found the work of Emma Hardaker. Her colourful abstract patterns run the length of several boarded up shops along this street. This artwork was one of several pieces she has done as part of her residency at Fred Aldous. Last month we discovered her work in Manchester, and recently she did a piece in Sheffield.
Further up Kirkgate, is ‘#Welcome’. This large artwork on the side entrance to Kirkgate Market is by the Sheffield based artist Rob Lee. His work has always proven popular in the Steel City, so it was good to see his eye-catching style elsewhere.
With the light fading, we started to make our way back to the train station, and home to Sheffield. However, we did manage to hunt down one last mural we were keen to see. Hidden away in a courtyard off York Place is ‘Winifred’. This large mural of an armoured elephant is by Qubek.
We really enjoyed our afternoon hunting street art in Leeds. What we found was mostly very different to the street art in Sheffield (although we did discover works by some familiar artists).
Leeds is easy to reach by train from Sheffield. There are several trains an hour and it can be reached in as little as 40 minutes. We will definitely be returning at some point to seek out more artworks. We’re already aware that we didn’t see everything.