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Famed for its industrial past, Leeds has much to offer the contemporary art world. Leeds is a vibrant city with a young student population. Subsequently, the art scene in this UK-based cultural mecca is continually influenced by the unremitting influx of new residents. Here are the ten best places to find contemporary art in the heart of the city and beyond.
Formerly Leeds Gallery, Gallery Munro House is an independent venue owned by two alumni of Central St. Martins College of Art and Design. Given the background of its curators, it’s unsurprising that the gallery has a niche focus on photography, illustration, and fine art. Exhibitions at Gallery Munro House work on a quick turnaround, so there’s always new work to explore. The fast-paced nature of the space also lends itself to pop-up events, giving the gallery a consistently fresh vibe. The gallery has previously played host to the Leeds Student Photography Festival.
Munro House, York Street, Leeds, UK +44 11 3243 3266
Self-proclaimed as an “exciting new addition to the Leeds art scene,” Sunny Bank Mills Art Space resides in a restored mill which once spent its day producing worsted cloth. A former industrial site predictably lends itself to exhibiting art work, with a large, open-plan space and exposed brickwork making for airy, aesthetically-pleasing communal areas able to house large installations. Swimming in natural light, the mill’s art space is enticing for exhibitors and art lovers looking for a fresh environment full of life. Sunny Bank Mills Art Space showcases artists-in-residence for periods of around two months at a time, in addition to running workshops including life drawing and acrylicclasses.
Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, Pudsey, West Yorkshire, UK +44 11 3256 3239
If you fancy a tipple whilst you browse, then the White Cloth Gallery should be at the top of your list. A versatile venue, it’s home to photography and film exhibitions, a café-come-bar, and an event space. The WCG Café-Bar serves food from lunch to dinner, and is a popular eatery for gallery visitors and punters from the street alike. The premise of the gallery is to fuse together both established and emerging talent to work alongside one another for a more varied gallery experience. The space mainly focuses on photographic works.
White Cloth Gallery, 24-26 Aire Street, Leeds, UK +44 11 3218 1923
A mother of Modernism and abstract sculpting, Barbara Hepworth is often mentioned in the same breath as Henry Moore due to their Yorkshire upbringing and their celebrated artistic partnerships with bronze. Although not located in Leeds itself, The Hepworth is only a stone’s throw away, and too iconic to ignore. The gallery permanently displays original working models of some of Hepworth’s sculptures from the 1950s onwards, exhibited under the name ‘The Gift.’ Visitors can marvel at the work-in-progress models cast in plaster and aluminium before they made it into the finished bronze products we all know and love. Although an ode to Hepworth, the gallery also hosts an array of exhibitions by Hepworth’s contemporaries and successors, including Austrian artist and sculptor Franz West.
The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, UK +44 19 2424 7360