Tucked away down alleys and hidden in plain sight, these works of art are worth seeking out.
Over the last decade, Leeds has become a city of art. Our streets, once plain and untouched, have been adorned with colourful murals and abstract works that brighten up even the darkest days. But have you found them all? This unmissable public art trail, created by LeedsBID, will take you on a wild adventure through the city centre as you seek out the murals that have transformed the city’s streets.
Rob Burrow is a rugby legend. During his long and storied career, he won eight Super League championships and 20 international caps. In 2019, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, but his positive, can-do attitude has beenpav an inspiration to us all. In honour of everything that he’s done, Leeds City Council, BBC Sport and Leeds Rhinos commissioned Aske P19 to put him back in Rhinos blue one last time.
Portland Building, Leeds Beckett University, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds West Yorkshire, LS1 3HE.
Tribute & It’s All Happenin’
Belgrave Music Hall’s make-shift beer garden has been transformed into a colourful mish-mash of art. Tribute tops and tails Merrion Place with duo of bold murals by Leeds art collective, Two Times (Benjamin Craven and Edan MF). One is a comic-style MF Doom tribute, the other an abstract pop of colour. And they’re joined by bold patterns and tropical leaves of Jameson Rogan’s It’s All Happenin’.
Tribute & It’s All Happenin’, Merrion Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Forms of Real State
In 2019, The Brunswick was reimagined by former Head Chef, Eden MF. At that point, his little art empire, Real State, was in its very early stages, so when they gave him the opportunity to do his first mural, he jumped at it. The design, like most of his work, was inspired by architecture, and painted in autumnal hues. Soon, the mural will be replaced by a new work of art, so catch it while you can.
Forms of Real State, The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
Paving the Way (1)
Stop scouring the walls, you need to turn your eye to the ground to see Open to the Public’s Paving the Way. EV, aka Leeds-based artist Emma Hardaker, worked with students from local charity MAP (Music & Arts Production) to bring a pop of colour to the area. The design is inspired the architecture of the Hope Foundry, the Grade II-listed building that MAP calls home, and the creativity that happens within.
Paving the Way, 69 Mabgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7DR.
The Mabgate Mural has stood the test of time. It was painted in 1988 by community artist Janet De Wagt. She worked with a team of local high school students, who became part of the art itself. It’s them that you’ll see in the windows, each of which offer a glimpse into the city’s past through a visual timeline that stretches back to the days of horses and carts. Plans are afoot to return the mural to its former glory.
Mabgate Mural, 93 Mabgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7DR.
Headrow House Wall
Jack Of All is an artists collective made up of three friends – Rosie Leather, Charlie Johnson and Megan Fell. The Headrow House Wall was the first job they ever did together. It’s inspired by the venue itself and shows relaxed, laidback people poised to dance in fun and unusual positions. They kept the design free and open, with big illustrated gangly figures and their signature pea heads. The mural was free-sketched in chalk before they blocked in the colour with paint.
Headrow House Wall, 19a The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
George Street Welcome
Commissioned by LeedsBID as part of ‘A City Less Grey’, George Street Welcome is a 20-metre mural on the walls of Kirkgate Market. The hand-drawn letters are a nod to the Victorian architecture of the building, but the colourful geometric pattern places it firmly in the 21st century. It’s the work of Leeds-based illustrator and muralist Nathan Evans, whose work focuses on intricate patterns, hand-drawn lines and analogue marking.
George Street Welcome, Kirkgate Outdoor Market, George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS27HY.
A little blue bird that’s native to Brazil, the Spix’s macaw is now one of the rarest in the world. The last sighting was as recent as 2000, but it’s now thought to be extinct in the wild. And it was this recent loss that inspired Jane Mutiny to paint Spix’s Macaws in 2015. On a bright orange background, these two giant birds send a message to passersby, raising awareness about the consequences of our actions.
Spix’s Macaws, Munro House, York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 8AG.
INSA X Moniker
This is so much more than just a mural. Insa X Moniker is a carbon-conscious, waste-aware mural that makes sustainability beautiful. Internationally acclaimed artist, INSA, returned to his home city to paint this 13-metre high mural on the side of Wharf Chambers. He used Biosphere carbon-reducing paint that purifies the air around it, so it’s not just an incredible work of art, it’s also good for the environment.
INSA X Moniker, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, Wst Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ.
Commissioned by King and Co, curated by In Good Company and painted by the ever-talented Mr Penfold, Graphical House is a landmark in its own right. Completed in just one week and painted in his distinctive graphical style, it’s a bright, colourful statement piece that demands to be looked at. From clashing stripes to abstract shapes and bold patterns, it all comes together on one ginormous urban canvas.
Graphical House, 2 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ.
United We Stand
Created as part of the EX[S]PORTS project, which explores the relationship between art and sports, United We Stand is the work of French artist Jiem. In February 2016, he became the first artist in residence at The Art Hostel and left a lasting mark on the city in the form of this mural. It’s a tribute to a LUFC football chant from the 90s and was produced alongside the long-gone Marching On Together hoardings outside Leeds Playhouse.
United We Stand, 85 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DR
A 50-foot behemoth in the heart of the city, the Pablo Mural celebrates Leeds United’s return to Premier League after 16 years away. It shows the moment of pure exhilaration after Pablo Hernández scored the winning goal against his ex-club Swansea City in July 2020. The mural was commissioned by The Leeds United Supporters’ Trust, funded by fans and painted by local artist Adam Duffield.
Pablo Mural, 43 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DR.
Another incredible result of ‘A City Less Grey’, Common Ground is a thought-provoking mural by local artist Mike Winnard. It explores the rich history and diversity of the area, taking you from the oak forests that once stood here to the bulldozers that reshaped it. The mural also features the phrase ‘common ground’ translated by local poets, academics and residents into the most commonly spoken languages in Leeds.
Common Ground, New York House, Harper Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EA.
The New York Street entrance to Kirkgate Market has been transformed by a huge mural. Created by award-winning Yorkshire artist, Rob Lee, it takes inspiration from the original Victorian entrances of the Grade I-listed building. He uses geometrical patterns to create a 3D effect that baffles the brain with bright colourful arches, which take their cue from the ornamental and the multicultural diversity of the market.
#Welcome, New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DT.
One of the most famous murals in Leeds, Cornucopia is impossible to miss. It stands tall on the wall of Blue Rinse, on the intersection of Vicar Lane and Call Lane. Speciality Shops, former owners of Leeds Corn Exchange, commissioned Ilkley-based artist Graeme Willson to paint the mural in 1989. It was completed a year later, and thanks to the ‘Keim’ system of silicate paints he used, it remains in place today.
Cornucopia, 16 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DN.
Paving the Way (2)
Commissioned by Leeds United to mark their new partnership with Roc Nation, Paving the Way honours the diverse heritage of the club. It depicts three significant LUFC players – Albert Johanneson was the first high profile Black player to represent Leeds United, Lucas Radebe made over 200 appearances during his 11-year stay and Kalvin Phillips has made a flying start to his first Premier League season.
Paving the Way, The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EH.
You & Me, Me & You
In the midst of lockdown, In Good Company and acclaimed graphical artist Anthony Burrill joined forces to give the people of Leeds a message of hope. You & Me, Me & You is a huge monochrome mural on the side of 32 The Calls. They wanted to mark a moment in time and recognise the connections we’ve both made and missed over the last 18 months. Now it’s a lasting reminder of what matters most.
You & Me, Me & You, 32 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EW.
In September 2019, a 100-year-old dredger boat that worked the Leeds-Liverpool Canal was transformed into a work of art by Benjamin Craven and Jenny Beard. Brought together by In Good Company and supported by Yorkshire Design Group, they used a mish-mash of colours, patterns and techniques. Though different, the two were perfectly paired – the geometric order of Craven’s work is given new freedom by Jenny’s natural fluidity.
Barge, 46 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EY.
Faces of Leeds
If you head down to the waterfront today, you’re in for a wonderful surprise because Sheffield graffiti artist, Affix has turned a plain brick wall into a work of art. From playwright Alan Bennett to broadcaster John Craven and boxer Nicola Adams OBE, it’s a tribute to our homegrown greats. Using reference photos, Affix sketched each personality in spray paint, then layered on every detail of their face.
Faces of Leeds, Just off Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LE.
Nestled beside Faces of Leeds, and commissioned as part of the same project by the Canal and River Trust, is Wildlife. Historically, canals were built for industry, but now, they reconnect us with nature, offering a softer space in an urban landscape – and that’s what this mural does too. Affix has brought animals from the wild into the city, with a fox, heron and owl painted in mesmerising detail.
Wildlife, Just off Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LE.
Peachzz is an acclaimed graffiti artist with a knack for injecting nature into urban locations. She was commissioned to do this mural of ginormous tropical birds on the side of Sheaf St, which played right into her love of clashing colours and exotic wildlife. But they also gave her a challenge. They asked her to build their logo into the design, so if you step back and take in the whole scene, their signature ’S’ pops out in bright yellow.
Sheaf St, 3 Sheaf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1HD.
This isn’t just a work of art, it’s also sending an important message because this is probably the only Linnet you’ll see today. When we think of endangered species, we think of leopards and polar bears, but according to the RSPB, linnet numbers dropped by 57% in the UK between 1970 and 2014, so the same problems can be found right on our doorstep. Hand-painted by London-based street artist ATM, Linnet is a lasting reminder of that fact.
Sheaf St, 3 Sheaf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1HD.
Washing Marine (2018)
Replete specialises in anamorphic optical illusions, 3D works of art that make you do a double-take – and Washing Marine (2018) is one of the biggest in the UK. Although it was commissioned by Rushbond, Replete was given complete freedom, and so, he created a playful take on domesticity, a reflection of Brewery Wharf’s waterside living, twisted and reimagined through a deep-sea diver climbing out of a washing machine.
Washing Marine (2018), 2 Brewery Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1NE.
At 36-foot, Athena Rising is the UK’s tallest piece of street art. It was painted by Cbloxx and AYLO, the internationally-acclaimed duo behind Nomad Clan, and depicts an owl in flight. Historically, owls represent wisdom and wealth, but they also have local significance, because owls feature heavily on the city’s coat of arms. Athena Rising was commissioned by LeedsBID and initiated by East Street Arts as part of ‘A City Less Grey’.
Athena Rising, Platform, New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JB.
4’s A Crowd
Inspired by Heart Research UK, 4’s A Crowd is a triumph of abstract art. It was created by local artist Nicolas Dixon for their Anonymous heART auction, but when COVID restrictions derailed their plans, he decided to turn it into a public awareness exercise. The 10-metre mural, which is spread across four boards, will be on display at Chow Down throughout the summer, offering a colourful interlude to diners while they eat.
4’s A Crowd, Chow Down, Temple Arches, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5QG.
You’ll find Winifred tucked away in the courtyard between 31 York Place and 33 Park Place. This epic mural is inspired by the famous elephant armour on show at Royal Armouries. It proudly wears a ring of white Yorkshire roses and carries the city’s iconic mills on its back in nod to our industrial past. Winifred is the work of graffiti artist Qubek and was named after his grandma, who was born and raised in Leeds.
Winifred, 31 York Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2BA.
A familiar face awaits under the flyover, where the inner ring road passes over the A58. It’s here that you’ll find Aske P19’s ginormous mural of Josh Warrington on the night that he became IBF World Featherweight Champion in 2018. It includes the words we’ve heard him say so many times, ’I wanted to put Leeds on the map’. The piece was commissioned by 11 Degrees to celebrate their new partnership and curated by Leeds Street Gallery.
Josh Warrington, Leeds Inner Ring Road Flyover, Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4PD.