Like many of England’s largest cities, Leeds has a thriving art scene which is fascinating both to its own citizens as well as to those visiting from all over the world. From the traditional Leeds Art Gallery to the trendy White Cloth Gallery, it has something for everyone who loves arts and crafts.
Leeds Art Gallery
This is usually the first stop for many on their artistic exploration of Leeds, or Yorkshire for that matter. The collection within is considered to have national importance, featuring works from local artists Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as well as Rodin and Francis Bacon, and is one of the best organisations of twentieth century British art anywhere in the country.
Gallery Munro House
An independent venue run by two out-of-towners, the Gallery Munro House is strictly focused on photography, fine art and illustration, and has a surprisingly quick turnaround of pieces. The Gallery, which is owned by two Central St Martins alumni, is also frequently used for the Leeds Student Photography Festival and brief pop-up events.
Craft Centre and Design Gallery
While you won’t see any famous artists here, you could be in for a real treat! This venue both shows and sells independent artwork from the UK, and exhibits as many as 300 different artists at a time. The artwork displayed is constantly changing, especially with dedicated season exhibitions, and hosts a wonderfully eclectic mix of materials and inspirations.
The Bono Art Gallery
Thankfully this isn’t a gallery dedicated to the U2 singer but named after its owner Robert Bono of Italy. Around ten miles outside of the city centre in the small town of Otley you can experience Mediterranean abstract art from Bono with his distinctive double-sided paintings. Local talents are also given a good showcase, with different exhibitions every month.
Art in Liverpool goes far beyond the doors of the numerous art galleries, and out into the streets where passers-by get to experience it close up. From signs instructing people to “Go throw yourself into the sea” at Clarence Dock, to graffiti under the railway archers, to massive steel curtains and philosophical junction boxes, it’s best to keep your eyes peeled when exploring the city.
If you feel like stepping out of Leeds for the day, there are many wonderful places nearby to enjoy a little creativity. The York Art Gallery holds a lot of traditional pieces of art, but around the city you will frequently find pop-up graffiti murals and even ice sculptures and ice vodka luges. For more permanent pieces, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield makes for an interesting walk, and the Media Museum in Bradford is perfect for people whose ideal art involves film, television, photography and animation.
While some may still see art galleries as dusty buildings filled with paintings of aristocrats – don’t worry, there are still a few of these – they can be so much more, and no more so than in Leeds. The next time you visit choose carefully which gallery, museum or street art you peruse – things change quickly in the art world and it would be a shame to miss a thing!