A community mural commissioned by All Together Armley was unveiled to the public at a fun and family-friendly launch party by Modes of Expression – the artistic duo behind the installation, writes Briony Axe.
The launch party saw many Armley residents arrive at the former Yorkshire Bank building at the Junction of Town Street and Wesley Rd, whilst enjoying a selection of free drinks and snacks.
The inspiration behind the mural was the idea of creating a community-based installation with contributions from local residents, in order to ‘celebrate the cultural symbiosis and experience of Armley folk that make Armley the wonderful and diverse community-driven place it is’.
A series of workshops led by local artists Bobbi-Rae and Emma Hardaker saw the pair collect drawings and mementos from Armley residents both young and old. Older residents contributed with the aid of local charity Armley Helping Hands.
The Breeze team at Armley Leisure Centre ensured that the younger residents of Armley contributed to the piece in their own way.
Glenn Broadbent, of All Together Armley, said:
“What was special about the project was the difference in age range of contributors: the youngest being four years old and the oldest being ninety-nine!”
One of the attendees of the launch was Burley-based artist Irene Wan, who travelled over the river Aire to attend the launch. She said of the piece:
“I love the colour scheme. What is interesting is the way the dark colours give way into brighter one and draw you your eyes across the whole canvas. It’s a great piece of work.”
Local resident Abby Akers, who also attended the launch party, added:
“I think it’s great that Armley has this such a wonderful community which has thought to do something like this. It’s a great addition and hopefully a sign of things to come for the area.”
The launch party lasted for a total of three hours, with children playing in the park on the moor in the spring afternoon, next to the brand new addition to the landscape.
Artists Bobbi and Emma were on hand to answer questions and pose for photographs. Discussing the work with attendees, Bobbi said of the finished piece:
“We’re really happy with it, we’ve got really positive feedback from everyone who has been around to see it.”
The pair also talked about what it was like to work with the community on the piece, with Emma saying:
“It’s been loads of fun, because we’ve done it with loads of different age groups.
“When we went to Armley Helping Hands, lots of people there had this negative viewpoint of Armley from a few years ago and some of the [older people’s] families have been here for years and years. It was really fascinating, and they all brought stuff along.
“At the leisure centre it was a total different perspective of the area. A lot of them were a bit too young to understand Armley’s recent reputation and lots of them didn’t know outer Armley as well so it was really interesting [to see them engage so positively with their community].”
In addition to local residents, MP for Leeds West Rachel Reeves attended and tweeted her support of the project afterwards:
— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) April 21, 2017
After months in the making, the mural adds a healthy dose of colour and positivity to the area, and as a result of its success, All Together Armley are set to continue their work in bringing community-driven projects that promote further inclusivity to Armley and the surrounding areas.
Gudrun Shemilt, chair of ATA concluded that:
“It is great to see a physical representation of the community coming together.”