It’s time to check out the lesser known art galleries and exhibition spaces in Leeds.
The city’s big galleries have earned huge respect thanks to their influential exhibitions, but Leeds also has plenty of smaller art spaces that, while less famous, are well worth your time. Whether it’s active studios where artists work and show off their skills or an intimate exhibition space tucked away in a basement, there’s plenty on offer for art lovers.
Lady Beck Studios and Project Space
Previously known as Enjoy, the Lady Beck Studios and Project Space is now right at home on Mabgate. Run by the team behind Assembly House, it provides students and creatives with a space to work and exhibit. Lady Beck now has an extra floor of dedicated studios, which are available for emerging groups and collectives to use.
Lady Beck Studios and Project Space, Unit 22, 64-76 Mabgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7DZ.
The Brunswick blends food and drink with art and events in its little corner of North Street. The ground floor is the bar, where you’ll find a decent selection of craft beers to work your way through, but if you head upstairs to the second floor (past the food hall), you’ll find their gallery space. It offers an ever-changing array of exhibitions – expect to see work from local artists making their break as well as more established names visiting the city.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
130 Vicar Lane
East Street Arts have taken over 130 Vicar Lane to create a unique multi-purpose venue with one hell of a facade. Inside, one half acts as a studio and exhibition space for local artists and their artist-in-residency programme, but they also have a way for you to get involved. They share the space with Leeds Print Workshop who offer workshops, courses and events to help you kick off your own artistic projects.
130 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
The Old Red Bus Station
Having sat empty for over two decades, The Old Red Bus Station on Vicar Lane is finally back in use. It’s been turned into one of the coolest little bars in the city. Alongside craft beers and a tasty all vegan canteen, they have a dedicated art and events space on the first floor. Here, they showcase the best local artists they can find, giving them a platform to exhibit their work alongside the best from across Europe.
The Old Red Bus Station, 101-105 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
As well as acting as the headquarters for one of Leeds’ finest cultural institutions, East Street Arts, Patrick Studios is a bespoke venue for artists to really get to work. There are 34 studio spaces, a resource area and a double height project space. The latter is vital because it gives artists a platform to show off their work and generate new ideas, while offering the public a first-hand view of the most cutting edge art in the city.
Patrick Studios, St Mary’s Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7EH.
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
The name doesn’t give anything away, but Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun is actually one of the city’s underground art collectives. Their new home on East Parade gives local artists a place to work and share ideas, but it also doubles as a gallery where you can take in an annual programme of contemporary art exhibitions.
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, 18 East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2BH.
The Bowery flies under the radar, despite being one of the best art spaces in Leeds. It’s got a cafe, so you can nip for a cuppa and a slice of cake, but the main focus is exhibition space. They seek out local artists and give them a place to show their work to a wider audience. Even better, if you like what you see, you can buy the art to take home, or even try it out for yourself with one of their many creative workshops.
The Bowery, 54 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AL.
One of East Street Arts’ network of studios, Barkston House is unique because it concentrates solely on one discipline – ceramics. They’ve got seven units on the building’s first floor with 40 studio spaces, a 20 person classroom and a ceramics room with kilns, sinks, a plaster room and specialist equipment. You can see their unique creations in the two on-site art galleries at the Leeds venue, alongside a host of other exhibitions.
Barkston House, Croydon Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9RT.
Sitting above Wharf Chambers, Serf is one of the key artist-led community and project spaces in the city centre. Their large space is home to more than 20 open-plan studios and workshops for the city’s budding artists. Serf’s organisational committee is made up of studio holders, which means the artists themselves decide what to do with the space. The collective and supportive mentality of Serf gives its artistic residents the chance to curate exhibitions, showcase work and experiment with the project space.
Serf, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ.
Based out in Chapel Allerton, The Inkwell is an art space that does vital work for the local community. They work with people who are vulnerable or have mental health issues to help fight the stigmas they face, by running creative workshops that both challenge and encourage them. The result is an ever-changing selection of locally-made art, which means there’s something new to see every time you visit.
The Inkwell, 31 Potternewton Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3LW.
Castle Galleries is a weird one. You probably pass it every day without ever knowing it’s there. Based on Albion Place, it’s part of a chain of art galleries that can be found all over the UK. They show off a range of fine art from an ever-growing selection of artists, some of national repute, others just making their mark – and if you like what you see, you can take it home with you, as all the work they show is for sale.
Castle Galleries, 24-25 Albion Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6JS.
Having taken over one of Armley’s famous textile mills, Assembly House has turned the building into something important once again. It’s an artist-led studio space, which is home to creatives from every discipline. As well as acting as their workspace, they have a newly-built art gallery and project space where you can see monthly exhibitions, screenings, workshops and events.
Assembly House, 44 Canal Road, Armley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 2PL.
Live Art Bistro
One of the more unique art spaces in Leeds, Live Art Bistro really does go all out to confound and challenge people’s perceptions of art. It’s not your usual gallery – in fact, its main focus is performance art, be it theatre, music, dance or something more traditional. Spread out across a huge former car dealership, they’ve got the space to really innovate with their performances and you may just be surprised by what you see.
Live Art Bistro, Regent Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7QA.
Freedom Mills has become one of the more adaptable art spaces Leeds over the past few years. Alongside a slew of gigs, clubnights and festivals, this multi-talented venue is a platform for local and international artists to present their work. Since opening in 2016, they’ve showcased the work of abstract artist Nicholas Dixon, graffiti genius Inkie and Parisian sculptor Gerard Gureux. They also put on life drawing classes and art workshops where you can pick up some skills yourself.
Freedom Mills, Washington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1JL.
It’s not often that you come across an art space that’s dedicated to the local community, but that’s exactly what the East Street Arts-run Union 105 is. Based in Chapeltown, its seven studios provide space for local artists and they produce work inspired by the suburb. It’s a working studio, but you can also nip into their project space where they show a range of exhibitions by commissioned artists.
Union 105, 105 Chapeltown Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3HY.
Another city centre gallery that you never knew existed, Whitewall Galleries is based in the grandiose setting of the Victoria Quarter, bringing the finest art from across the world to Leeds. They have a special focus on contemporary art, so you can pick up the rare finds of tomorrow, but they also host regular exhibitions.
Whitewall Galleries, 25 King Edward Street, Victoria Quarter, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AX.
The Art Hostel
There aren’t many art spaces quite like The Art Hostel. First and foremost, it’s a place to stay and one of the coolest in Leeds at that, because they’ve commissioned a series of artists to make each room unique. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stay over to make the most of The Art Hostel. Their ground floor and basement art spaces are home to regular exhibitions from local artists – so why not nip in and see what they have on?
The Art Hostel, 83 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery
Art at the University of Leeds isn’t just reserved for students. Since 1970, the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery has been open to the public. It’s home to the University Art Collection, a large selection of ceramics, photographs and sculpture. And there’s plenty more to enjoy for free, including a wide range of British and European paintings, drawings and prints from the 17th century to present.
The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.
The Craft Centre and Design Gallery
One of the most underrated art galleries in Leeds can be found under one of the most famous. The Craft Centre and Design Gallery sits beneath Leeds Art Gallery, and contains works from 300 British designers and artists, with everything from limited edition prints to jewellery, ceramics and mixed media. Best of all, everything is for sale, so if you see something that would look great over your mantelpiece, you can take it home. Look out for their annual print shows, exhibitions and showcases.
The Craft Centre and Design Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AB.
Sunny Bank Mills
Once an important part of the city’s industrial past, Sunny Bank Mills was lovingly restored by the Gaunt family and has now been reborn as a multi-purpose creative workspace, meeting centre and art gallery in the heart of Farsley. With its large nine feet windows which allow natural light to stream through, the 3,500 square feet art gallery is the perfect setting for exhibitions and even theatre events.
Sunny Bank Mills, 83-85 Town Street, Farsley, Pudsey, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 5UJ.
Leeds Central Library Art Space
You’ll find more than paperbacks hidden in Leeds Central Library. Just head up the stairs to the first floor where you’ll find their art space. Here, they bring together art and words. You can browse over 25,000 books on subjects from crafts to sculpture, enjoy their latest art exhibitions, attend author events and much more – no library card needed.
Leeds Central Library Art Space, 1st Floor, Leeds Central Library, Caverley Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AB.
Tucked away in a 19th century building on East Parade, &Model Gallery opened in 2013 as a new venue to showcase contemporary art from a range of local and international artists. The aim here is to offer something different, with exhibitions you wouldn’t find in traditional Leeds galleries. Since opening, they’ve displayed the work of over 100 artists, ranging from room-filling installations to tiny models.
&Model Gallery, 19 East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2BH.
Workshop Press Gallery
It’s one thing to admire a photograph, but this Leeds art gallery aims to take it one step further by telling a story. Led by artist Garry Barker, Workshop Press Gallery champions local artists by giving them access to an etching studio to create prints or the opportunity to print their own books. If you’d rather browse art than create it, you’ll also find Barker’s intriguing drawings, ready to come alive.
Workshop Press Gallery, 10 Back Newton Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 4HW.
Basement Arts Project
You probably wouldn’t expect to find one of Leeds’ coolest independent art galleries in a terraced house in Beeston, but that’s exactly what Basement Arts Project is. It’s run by Bruce Davies, a man who’s made it his mission to find the best up and coming artists in the region, displaying their work in his subterranean art space and helping them to connect and collaborate with other artists.
Basement Arts Project, 26 Burton Terrace, Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5JH.
A cornerstone of the local community, Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, otherwise known as HEART, is run out of an old primary school. Nip over to the cafe for a quick bite before you browse the three exhibition spaces showcasing paintings, photographs and drawings of local artists. Or if you prefer, unleash your creativity with life drawing, brush and palette art groups or dance classes.
HEART, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HN.