Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

The Waterfront Art Trail

· Ali Turner · Culture

From Holbeck to Leeds Dock, take in a little public art along the Leeds waterfront.

Reflective Approach Leeds Dock

Follow this trail from Holbeck, up the waterfront to Brewery Wharf and Leeds Dock, taking in a host of art along the way.

This particular stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal has public art dotted all along it, with work by Chris Knight, Kevin Atherton and more. It will take you from Holbeck, where the art harks back to days gone by, all the way down the waterfront to Leeds Dock, at which point you can just on the waterfront and be back in the centre within minutes.

Patrons Project

Northern Monk Mural

Credit: Katie Nicole

Nomad Clan have been very busy around Leeds. Not only have they created the tallest mural in the UK, they’ve also collaborated with Polish graffiti artist Tank Petrol on Northern Monk’s Patrons Project. They were asked to transform CEG’s warehouse on Globe Road into a work of art that pays homage to the city’s industrial past. Nomad Clan’s work is on the left, a tribute to Aylo’s grandfather ‘Jimmy Boy’, a former worker in the city’s mills, and to his right is Tankpetrol’s depiction of John Marshall, an important Leeds industrialist.

Patrons Project, 13 Globe Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5QG.

Marshall’s Mill Sheep

Marshall Mill Sheep

This leggy fella isn’t as out of place as you’d imagine. It stands four-metres in the air on telescopic stilts, with wild blue eyes which light up after dark. Antonia Stowe created Marshall’s Mill Sheep in 2005 using steel, roofing felt and rope. Her chosen materials intentionally reflect Leeds’ industrial past, while the sheep itself pays homage to the real flock that once grazed on Temple Works’ grassy roof nearby. Historically, the grass maintained the humidity of the Victorian Flax Mill, while the sheep maintained the grass.

Holbeck Sheep, Marshall Court, Marshall Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9YP.

The Bike Tree

Bike Tree

This former Christmas tree isn’t all that festive, but it’s certainly unique, sat at the bottom of The Midnight Bell’s beer garden. As its name implies, the Bike Tree is a tree, created with an orange pole and 35 fluorescent pink, green and blue recycled bicycle wheels for branches. Sarah Wigglesworth built it to celebrate Christmas in 2009, and in 2014 the Bike Tree was given some TLC in the run-up to the Grand Départ of the Tour de France here in Leeds.

The Bike Tree, 2 Foundry Square, Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5DL.

The Linnet

The Linnet

The Linnet was hand-painted feather-by-feather, in hues of yellow, pink and beige on Sheaf Street Cafeteria by London-based street artist ATM. The northern bird was once commonly spotted in gardens across Leeds, but their numbers have dwindled by 60% over the last forty years, compelling the Sheffield Art College graduate to create this piece of public art for us. Unbelievably, a real linnet flew past him while he worked on it, which goes to show that there’s hope for them yet – perhaps you’ll also see one when you’re there.

Sheaf Street Cafeteria, 3 Sheaf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1HD.

The Tetley’s Shire Horse

The Shire Horse

One final Shire horse stands outside the Carlsberg office today, where 120 once pulled drays, delivering barrels of The Tetley’s finest across the city. It’s a towering life-size sculpture with a harness around its neck, paying homage to the workhorses who made a huge contribution to the city back in the day. The last three Tetley Shire horses promoted the Brewery ceremonially until they were retired in August 2006, but their Victorian ancestors arrived here when Joshua Tetley first established his brewery in 1822.

Carlsberg UK Ltd, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.

Sheaf Tree

Sheaf Tree

Tucked away behind Ciao Bella on Dock Street, this five-metre tall stem of barley is a nod to the city’s brewing heritage, crafted from Cor-Ten steel by sculptor Chris Knight to also celebrate the regeneration of Brewery Wharf in 2005. He allowed the people of Leeds to name it, when he’d finished bending and cutting the Sheaf Tree’s leaves using a technique inspired by pattern-making in the local leather industry. It’s rusted over the past 11-years to charming effect, becoming a worthy winner of the Landscape Award for Public Art and another pleasant stop on your trail through Leeds.

Sheaf Tree, 51 Waterloo Street, Brewery Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1GY.

Steeped Vessels

Steeped Vessels

Across the way, Ian Randle’s 6-metre tall bronze and stainless steel sculpture offers a second, and altogether different, take on barley to remind you of Leeds’ brewing heritage and salute the redevelopment of Brewery Wharf. Yet all is not as it seems. Take a closer look and you’ll see that the stems of the barley transform into the prows of a boat, moored permanently to the floor, giving a nod to the canal which sits mere metres away. The Leeds-based sculptor has even scattered ginormous pearls of barley around the grass, so keep an eye out for them as you pass.

Steeped Vessels, 7 Brewery Place, Brewery Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1NE.

A Reflective Approach

Leeds Dock

Credit: Ali Turner

At Leeds Dock, you’ll find two exact duplicates just twenty paces apart, one on the pavement, the other at the water’s edge. It’s an eerily life-like bronze figure pushing a ginormous stainless steel ball, made by Kevin Atherton in 2007. It’s inspired by the Greek myth of Sisyphus, the king condemned to push a boulder up a mountain for eternity. Together, the two sculptures depict his journey, while the sphere itself also offers a wicked optical illusion, distorting your reflection and the surrounding cityscape.

Reflective Approach, The Boulevard, Leeds Dock, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1PZ.