Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Artists taking the lead: Yorkshire

  • Date: 16 May 2011
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: North
Four people standing next to columns Leeds Canvas, Matthew Andrews 2009

Leeds Canvas

The people, streets, arcades and water flowing through the city are the source of the Leeds Canvas project led by the Brothers Quay, involving Leeds artists and arts organisations.

The project is part of Artists taking the lead, a series of 12 public art commissions across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Arts Council England is delivering the project in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.
A month-long series of interventions and art ambushes, incorporating film, music and movement, will culminate in spectacular events under the dark arches and in the city centre arcades in 2012. 
The driving force of Leeds Canvas is a partnership between Opera North, Northern Ballet Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Dance, Leeds Met Gallery and Studio Theatre, Situation Leeds, Leeds City Council, and Leeds Art Gallery, all of which are based in the city and work across the Yorkshire region.
Leeds Canvas 2012 is the first invitation of many, every four years - a new date in the calendar.

About the artists

Born near Philadelphia in 1947, the Quay Brothers have lived in the UK since the late 1970s. Identical twins, they studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and then later at the Royal College of Art in London. They have influenced a generation of artists and are hugely respected for the integrity and consistency of their work. As well as making their own projects, they have collaborated widely with festivals, theatre directors, opera houses and choreographers, and are always in demand for their designs for live performance.

They are perhaps most celebrated for their beautiful and enigmatic animated films, which often use music and puppetry. Street of Crocodiles (1986), considered by many as their masterpiece, was acclaimed by director Terry Gilliam as one of the top ten animated films ever made.

The panel

All of the winning Artists taking the lead projects were chosen by a panel of artists and producers. The Yorkshire panel commented:

'Leeds Canvas offered an inspirational vision for how the image of Yorkshire's biggest city could be culturally transformed - by allowing artists to use it as their canvas.  The partnership between the Quay Brothers and Leeds' arts organisations was very impressive, and the commitment to repeat the project to coincide with future Olympic Games will ensure a longstanding legacy.'

Read the Artists taking the lead, Yorkshire panel biographies.

Visit the Artists taking the lead page to find out about the other projects taking place across the UK.