From basement bunkers to industrial icons and mysterious marvels, you’ll find art in the most surprising of places in Leeds.
The city’s high-brow art galleries draw significant crowds, and it’s clear to see why, but there’s much to merit a tour of the lesser-known art spaces of Leeds too. You may be surprised by just how many intimate galleries and artists’ studios are tucked away all around the city, just waiting to be discovered. From quirky exhibition spaces to downright eccentric galleries, check out these criminally underrated art spaces and get to planning your art lovers’ tour of Leeds.
The Old Red Bus Station
A place to eat, drink and get inspired all rolled into one, The Old Red Bus Station is a brilliant bar-cum-art gallery in Leeds. This industrial venue is spread out across two storeys. On the ground floor you can tuck into vegan comfort food and wash it down with a well-priced pint, while upstairs a world of art awaits. The two-room space may be hired out for events of the music and dancing kind, but it’s also regularly graced by the works of local artists. Want to get stuck into a bit of art for yourself? They host weekly drink & draw sessions.
The Old Red Bus Station, 101-105 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
Screw Gallery is an artist-led gallery and exhibition space run in conjunction with East Street Arts. Formed in 2021, this is a space housing contemporary art from all around the world. The hard-to-miss exterior walls are painted all black, while inside the walls are stark white. The art takes centre stage among the minimalist design, with thought-provoking exhibitions from London-hailing photographers, Japanese painters, Leeds-based artists and more. If you want to get involved, SCREW U enables you to use their gallery to bring your own ideas to life.
Screw Gallery, 130 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
As well as being the home of East Street Arts, Patrick Studios has an immaculate art exhibition space that’s open to visitors. Adorned by artwork created by the local Leeds artists who rent out the studios, this is your chance to discover the current arty escapades going on in the city. You’ll find all manner and mode of art here, from paintings and sculptures to prints and the odd live performance. There’s an ever-rotating line-up to explore, offering you a front-row view of some of the most cutting-edge art being made in the city.
Patrick Studios, St Mary’s Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7EH.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to sit back and admire art or want to get hands-on yourself, The Bowery is an absolute treasure of a Leeds art space that demands a visit. Part exhibition space, part café, part shop – this is an art gallery to spend a whole day in. Contemporary art is what’s on the cards here, with a diverse programme of photography, painting and sculpture to make your way through. The cafe is a lovely spot to enjoy some proper coffee and if you’re feeling all inspired, you can even take part in their regular art workshops.
The Bowery, 54 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AL.
Tucked away in the historic Wharf Chambers, Serf creates a thriving art space for the community to come together, share art and get inspired. For the artists, that means a studio-led project space, with over 25 open-plan studios and workshops to get crafty in. Serf provides opportunities for local creatives to curate their own exhibitions, showcase their work and experiment in the project space. With so much going on here, there’s no shortage of work to display at their exhibitions year-round, and each one promises nothing but creativity.
Serf, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ.
Castle Fine Art
One for the finer things in life? Castle Fine Art may just be the art space in Leeds for you. Located in the charming Victoria Quarter, this bespoke art gallery fits in perfectly among its fellow luxury retailers. The stylish environment welcomes visitors to experience contemporary art from some of the country’s leading artists, alongside big international names. Everything you see here is for sale, so whether you’re looking to start or expand your art collection, there are plenty of limited-edition prints and original artworks to browse and even take home.
Castle Fine Art, 38-40 Victoria Quarter, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6BE.
Founded in 2013 by Leeds graduates, Assembly House is a workspace-slash-exhibition space set up to support emerging creatives in the city by offering affordable studios, career support and funded opportunities. Based in a former textiles mill on the edge of the canal, the character of the building lends itself to the art-related going-ons inside. You’ll find illustrators, sculptors, designers and more all working their magic here. The dedicated project space offers a monthly programme of exhibitions, workshops, talks and residencies for the art hungry.
Assembly House, 44 Canal Road, Armley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 2PL.
Despite its long history, The Tetley somehow still manages to fly under the radar. Once the Tetley Brewery headquarters, this behemoth of a building is home to some of the finest contemporary art you’ll find in the city. With rotating exhibitions and one-off events, there’s always something worth visiting for. You can take in the art deco architecture and explore every floor, each with numerous rooms filled with art. Want to let out your own inner artist? You can join in their courses and workshops, such as the regular Makers Lab.
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.
CLAY: Centre for Live Art Yorkshire
There’s no shortage of unique art spaces in Leeds and CLAY is definitely one of those. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill gallery, this is a centre for live art that provokes and promotes social change, all the while changing your perceptions of what art really is. Their warehouse is a community-driven art space where audiences, participants and artists are encouraged to express themselves through a variety of disciplines. Almost anything goes here and during your visit, you could be captured by a theatrical staging, musical show or interpretative dance.
CLAY: Centre for Live Art Yorkshire, 1-2 Regent Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7QA.
Set in a historic Victorian mill a mere stone’s throw away from the River Aire, Freedom Mills is a Leeds institution through and through. This is much more than your average arts space. The original brick walls today form a massive open space that transforms from an art gallery by day to one of the city’s biggest and busiest club spaces in Leeds at night. In the past, this lesser-known art space has seen exhibitions from the likes of local mural-painting legend, Nicholas Dixon, and graffiti genius, Inkie.
Freedom Mills, Washington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1JL.
Sunny Bank Mills
The regeneration of Sunny Bank Mills has seen one of the city’s most famous textile mills become a leading venue for art and culture in Leeds. With oodles of space packed full of creativity, the 3,000-square-foot art gallery serves as the creative hub of the mill and shines a light on local designers. While you’re here, you can browse artworks to take home in the shop and take respite in the cafe. Art courses from life drawing to felt making are available too, and the fascinating archives are an unmissable treasure trove of the building’s textile past.
Sunny Bank Mills, 83-85 Town Street, Farsley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 5UJ.
Art for Leeds, about Leeds, by Leeds – that’s what’s you can experience at Union 105. Its seven in-house studios provide a space for local artists to produce pieces inspired by the Chapeltown suburb. Although it’s a working East Street Arts studio, you can nip into their small project space to browse the range of commissions and rotating exhibitions. It’s an undoubtedly charming response to the people, places and contexts of Chapeltown, and a great example of how art can bring a community together.
Union 105, 105 Chapeltown Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3HY.
Right in the heart of Leeds city centre, in the grandiose setting of the Victoria Quarter, it can be all too easy to miss Whitewall Galleries, but it’s well worth seeking out. The art gallery itself is a classy affair and yet it’s by no means exclusive. There’s a focus on contemporary art here, with works from all over the world for your perusal and plenty for sale. Whitewall also hosts regular showcase events and often get their hands on some impressive nationally touring exhibitions too, making it a place to keep on your radar.
Whitewall Galleries, 25 King Edward Street, Victoria Quarter, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AX.
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery
You can head to the University of Leeds and show your support for the Leeds artists of tomorrow at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. Open to the public since 1970, it’s a little-known gem of an art space. It’s home to the university’s long-term art collection and features a respectful selection of European and British paintings and prints, dating back from the 17th century all the way through to the modern day. Temporary exhibitions keep it fresh and the graduate art displays are always a highlight.
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.
You might not expect to find one of the coolest independent art spaces in Leeds inside a mid-century terraced house in Beeston, but that’s exactly where BasementArtsProject is. It’s only open for a few hours on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, but founder Bruce Davies has made it his mission to provide a platform for artists from near and far to display their work in his subterranean art gallery. The result is an entirely unique roster of solo and group exhibitions, which is quirky and delightful in equal measure.
BasementArtsProject, 28 Back Burton Terrace, Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5JH.
Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre
Also known as HEART, Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre is run out of an old primary school in the Leeds suburb and its community-focus makes it entirely deserving of your support. There’s plenty to keep you entertained here. Alongside the events programme, shared workspaces and cafe, there are three art spaces showcasing paintings, photographs and drawings by local artists. The entire space is light, airy and beams with passion, making it a fantastic place to kick back and soak up some home-grown creativity.
Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HN.
Seven Arts is a real community asset in the heart of Chapel Allerton. The cafe and outdoor terrace visible from the street invite you in from the get-go, but what you may not know is that there’s far more to this dedicated arts venue than meets the eye. Venture in and you’ll find a rotating art exhibition that puts a different local artist under the spotlight every month. You’ll discover their work, whether it’s paintings, photography or prints, dotted around the cafe and bar area to pore over as you drink and dine.
Seven Arts, 31a Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3PD.
Aire Place Studios
Aire Place Studios is a creative space and art gallery in Leeds where equality and solidarity come first. Unlike most major galleries, it’s led by artists who work to actively encourage participation in all things creative from individuals with limited access to the arts. The space boasts relaxed studios and spaces for workshops, while the gallery is filled with work centred around innovation and inclusivity. That inclusive atmosphere encourages return visits, so while it may be lesser-known, it’s certainly much-loved.
Aire Place Studios, Unit 2c, Aire Place Mills, Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1JL.