With safety and sustainability concerns spiralling around the centre as of late, the LCC (Leeds City Council) has set out to squash these issues and create a more ‘People-friendly environment’.
Since the idea of ‘The Sustainable Travel Gateway Scheme’ was introduced back in February 2023, many works have begun getting underway, with demolition coming to an end at the start of 2024 and the unearthing of the massive underground space known as the ‘Mill Goit’ beginning development to become a new high-quality cycle hub.
Leeds has always been renowned for its complicated ‘loop-like’ ring road that spans around and through the centre, but with these recent road works and the implementation of contraflow bus gates, Leeds has become even harder to navigate.
Although many Leeds locals would regard this as a negative, it speaks in favour of the sustainability scheme even more, as it highlights the downsides of a city designed around cars. The new, additions of more bike lanes, bus routes, and cycle hubs promote sustainable travel whilst also discouraging an over-reliance on cars for travel around Leeds and creating a more sustainable future for Leeds.
As part of the sustainability scheme, the LCC has collaborated with the Leeds 2023 Year of Culture project, a not-for-profit year of culture that hosted multiple cultural events and exhibitions to help support local creatives and uphold the culture of Leeds, to create a new artwork installation space.
Aiming to highlight the broad range of heritage, culture, and creativity the Neville Street Exhibition has been grabbing passersby’s attention. Boasting a range of murals from ten different Leeds local creatives the exhibition offers a unique insight into Leeds’ creative background, history, and culture.
Chris Eastham, Amy Hodkin, Megan Dobbyn, Melody Sunderland, Natalie Ratcliffe, Andy Cahill, Mike Winnard, Joss Cole, Buttercrumble, and Kyle Prior are the current exhibitors with work that focuses on the experimental music scene, inclusivity, nature, and local history.
Mike Winnard’s piece for this project has been inspired by the dynamic and ever-changing music industry in Leeds. Taking key inspiration from the music itself, Mike began to understand that there is no one set genre that encompasses Leeds. He began using gig posters, flyers, venues, sheet music, and textures to create a cohesive collage of intricately detailed illustrated characters performing.
The final piece acts as a homage to the broad music community which thrives in Leeds. Rough textures surrounding swirling sheet music and local musicians create a mash-up of every genre found around Leeds, creating both an immersive visual and audio-scape for the viewer to explore.
Melody Sutherland’s piece focuses on the future and how Leeds is maintaining its historical places and features, offering an optimistic outlook on how the old industrial revolution buildings can fit into the future.
This piece focuses on taking classic Leeds landmarks into the future, aiming to inspire and motivate the public to push for a more sustainable future. Reimagining classic locations such as Elland Road Stadium, The Water Taxi and many more, Melody’s bright, energetic style lends itself well to this optimistic outlook.
With a deep family connection to Leeds’ textile industry, Chris Eastham used this opportunity to interact with the people of Leeds to show both the diversity and vibrance of the residents of Leeds. In her piece, Chris connects the past to the present by capturing Leeds locals working and going about their day-to-day lives and then compares them to the past industries.
Highlighting her family history and Leed’s history, Chris’ piece showcases everyday people using bright, eye-catching colours and textures to remind the people of Leeds where they came from and where they are going.
Natalie Neville has taken inspiration from local plants and the nature surrounding Leeds. Using the process of cyanotype printing she began collecting and collating plants, leaves, and flowers. Shifting the focus from city development Natalie wants her piece to encourage more people to get outdoors and enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Her final piece uses colourful pastels and harsh negative space to create a sharp snapshot of the delicate details that the nature of Leeds has to offer. With an emphasis on mental help throughout her practice, this piece aims to make passersby take a moment to be mindful and indulge in the feeling of going for a walk outdoors.
These are just a few of the pieces that are currently on display as part of the Neville Street Exhibition. If you want to see the rest of the pieces on display, there is currently an online version of the exhibition showing each mural up close, or I’d recommend taking a stroll down to Neville Street to have a look for yourself!
The Sustainable Travel Gateway Scheme is on track to be completed by 2025, so hopefully the disruption to travel routes from road works won’t last forever and Leeds will have more reliable and sustainable transport to connect the entire city.
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