Something as simple as a warehouse can be transformed into an incredible piece of art and if you keep your eyes open around Leeds, you’ll find buildings that have been given a new, artistic lease of life.
Leeds is a city where there’s a surprise around every corner. You can see the face of one of the city’s industrial pioneers immortalised on the side of a warehouse, catch a glimpse of our iconic owl motif towering above the train station or travel back in time to see the people who once worked on these ‘ere streets in the Mabgate Mural. It’s just another reason why you should always look up.
Over by West Yorkshire Playhouse, Mabgate is home to one of the most unusual pieces of art in Leeds. The Mabgate Mural was painted back in 1987 and three decades on, it’s still as impressive as ever. It was commissioned by the owner of the Mabgate Cafe, who also owned a painters and decorators. It depicts the local area as well as the people he knew and the people who worked for him who are shown in the mural’s windows. It brings together his own personal story with the history of Mabgate and it’s certainly stood the test of time.
Mabgate Cafe, 97 Mabgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7DR.
130 Vicar Lane
You can’t miss 130 Vicar Lane. It’s home to East Street Arts and Leeds Print Workshop. When they took it over it was a tired old building, but they worked with visual arts group Goat Collective to give it an almighty makeover. They took inspiration from the surrounding areas, using architectural motifs from nearby buildings and painting them in vivid colours on the front, to create an eye-catching mural that really stands out.
130 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
Metal Gear Solid
Back in 2013, game developers Konami decided to do something different to promote their newest game, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. They took over one side of Aireside House, the same building that is home to White Cloth Gallery, and commissioned graffiti artist EndOfTheLine to create a huge mural of the game’s main protagonist, Raiden. It was one of three murals painted across the UK, and stood alongside Liverpool and London, but Leeds is the only one that remains today.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, White Cloth Gallery, Aireside House 24/26 Aire Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4HT.
The Call Lane chippy may have shut down, but the huge mural on the building still remains. In 1989, artist Graeme Willson was commissioned by Speciality Shops, the owners of the Corn Exchange at the time, to brighten up the area as they renovated Brodrick’s iconic building. It’s a gigantic piece of work that features classical influences, such as Abundantia, the Roman goddess of abundance and prosperity, as well as hints of local architecture and history, like the Corn Exchange’s dome. It went down so well, it was awarded the Leeds Award for Architecture and the Environment.
Cornucopia, 14 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DN.
Leeds is now home to the tallest mural in the UK. Standing at 46.8 metres, Manchester-based graffiti artists Nomad Clan have transformed the Platform building which rises from Leeds Train Station. They’ve painted a huge owl at its centre, a nod to Leeds’ past, alongside a moon and a crown, which represents the artists, Cbloxx and Aylo. It was borne out of East Street Arts’ City Less Grey project, which was set up to brighten up Leeds with a series of cool, colourful artworks. Around the same height as the Statue of Liberty, this is the biggest of the lot.
Athena Rising, Platform, New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JB.
That’s not the only Leeds building Nomad Clan have helped to transform. They were brought in alongside Polish graffiti artist Tankpetrol by Northern Monk for their Patrons Project and asked to create a lasting homage to the city’s industrial heritage on an old warehouse building owned by CEG on Globe Road. On the left, you’ll see Nomad Clan’s tribute to Aylo’s grandfather, ‘Jimmy Boy’, who once worked in the city’s mills, and on the right is Tankpetrol’s John Marshall, one of the city’s most important industrialists.
Patrons Project, 13 Globe Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5QG.
Modes of Expression
We may be over an hour from the coast, but we have our own little slice of the seaside in Leeds, thanks to this colourful mural on Armley Moor. Commissioned by All Together Armley, it takes inspiration from the chip shop it adorns, as well as the local community – artists Bobbi-Rae and Emma Hardaker of Modes of Expression, held workshops with locals and integrated their ideas into the final design.
Armley Moor, 92 Town Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 3AA.