The current Leeds creative scene is thriving and I am grateful to be a part of it. There are many emerging spaces that function to house the artists, exhibitions and wider resources that make Leeds one of the most vibrant artistic cities in the country. Here, I will walk you through just a few…
I will start by taking you across the road from Leeds Art Gallery, tucked away on East Parade you will find And Model, a gallery space run by Derek Horton, in partnership will North Brewing Co. This three story contemporary gallery has an impressive archive of past shows and continues to bring new and exciting artist work to Leeds. Next door to And Model will soon be the new home for Set The Controls, an independent studio and gallery set up by Tavienne Bridgwater. Having built up a strong reputation through exhibitions at their previous space, this will undoubtedly be a complementary new neighbour.
Through town and above co-operative venue Wharf Chambers is a newly opened artist studio space and gallery, Serf. This open plan studio is filled with light from the large windows and the white walls are offset by the array of art and the wooden beamed ceilings. Over a dozen artists reside within the space, which is centred with a large table for communal work. Off to the side is their gallery, which opened recently with ‘Traction’, featuring work from their members.
Only a little further out and you will discover a cluster of artists in Mabgate. One of the first spaces that you come to is Live Art Bistro, an artist led events space that encourages the growth of live art and performance in Leeds centre. They program a variety of events, including local and international artists, and continue to push boundaries with live art. They are also well known for throwing a great party too!
Around the corner from LAB, we find Hack Space, an open studio and workshop where you can share your tools, knowledge and experience. The space boasts an impressive collection of equipment, from a laser cutter and 3D printer to welding kits and computer systems. It is great for swapping skills, learning and doing just about anything.
If we follow the back streets and alleys, you will soon notice a pair of hand painted eyes staring back at you; this three story building is Byron Street Mills and is a hive filled with an array of creative makers and businesses. Across the courtyard is Temple of Boom, a music venue and practice space who also team together with Byron Street Mills to put on events like ‘Rise & Shine’, which uses creativity as a means to raise awareness and funds for various causes.
Going behind Byron Street Mills we come to another impressive building called Hope House, which is home to MAP, a charity that provide bespoke art and music courses to young people who may have difficulties accessing mainstream education. Alongside the charity there are lots of other interesting things happening in this intriguing old building, from creative parties like Cosmic Slop to exhibitions in their gallery space.
Across the road is Studio 24, an independently run project space with a licensed bar. This versatile area has stone floors, an industrial feel and works great for the range of creative events they program, such as exhibitions, magazine launches, performances and gigs.
Located around the corner is Lady Beck, made up of two floors of studios, with a gallery sandwiched in-between. This space, alongside another located in Armley, are run by myself and the rest of the Assembly House team. Our shared ambition with both Assembly House and Lady Beck is to provide affordable space for making individual work, and to create a co-operative working environment for a diverse range of artists.
We, along with all the other spaces mentioned here, and even more throughout Leeds, are driven by our passion for the arts. We will continue to grow and expand across the city, finding new spaces and inspiration along the way.