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  • Writer's pictureRachael Unsworth

Public art trail

This tour considers artists, subjects, funding, locations and also how sculptures, murals and other works link to Leeds



A report written by a member of Sherburn & Villages u3a Art Appreciation Group


"Sixteen members of our group met Rachael Unsworth outside Leeds Art Gallery.

Rachael is an urban geographer but also has a vast knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for municipal artwork.

The tour started at the Henry Moore Institute with information about how this area of Leeds had altered and developed. We looked in detail at the figurative sculptures of the War Memorial but also considered whether other street furniture e.g. the redundant telephone boxes could be considered as street art.

Walking towards City Square our attention was drawn to the 19th century buildings, particularly the decorative friezes and mouldings which indicated previous use of the buildings, such as the female heads of the Scottish Widows insurance company building and terracotta mouldings which enabled sculptural details to be quickly reproduced.

We spent some time in City Square looking at the range of styles in the sculptures from the Black Prince (who died, not in battle, but of dysentery), the art nouveau lamp ladies (whose buttocks were allegedly used by people waiting for trams to strike matches to light their cigarettes) and the modern 'Legs Walking' by local sculptor Kenneth Armitage.

Walking through Trinity Shopping Centre, we looked at a modern sculpture of a pack horse, linking Leeds textile history to present day and also the metal gates depicting glimpses of Leeds heritage.

Walking towards the river Aire through The Calls, our attention was drawn to the diverse wall murals from celebrations of Leeds United football players to an abstract whose surface was coated with lime-based paint which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air so acting like an urban tree.

The tour finished near Brewery Wharf looking at a modern sculpture of ‘Steeped Vessels’.

Rachael was an excellent, informative guide and we would definitely consider booking one of her other tours in the future".

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