Who knew Kirkstall had such artistic talent? Kirkstall Art Trail reviewed

Art work at Kirkstall Abbey, as part of the Kirkstall Art Trail 2023. Photo: Keef Williamson

By Keef Williamson

You would think it was safe to schedule a public art event involving numerous venues, some of them outdoors, for the middle of July.

But this is British weather we’re dealing with and so, of course, it rained. On Saturday at least. The weather improved on Sunday and many more people were to be seen enjoying the surprisingly large number of locations hosting many different types of art.

We started by heading off on Saturday morning to Kirkstall Abbey – a magnificent venue that famously lacks a roof. A number of artists were located in the cloisters with their creations displayed on small stalls with pergola-like roofs.

In the nave, the artworks were placed in the recesses along both sides so they did benefit from some cover.

It has to be said the sheer number of exhibitors on the trail means that planning and discipline were needed if you wanted to see everything. Needless to say, we failed on both counts, so our apologies to artists not included here.

After the Abbey we went to the Conservation Volunteers Hollybush site. This benefits from having a roof and a number of artists had their works on show in the Barn. In a semi-enclosed outdoor seating area, puppeteer Belinda May performed ‘Workhouse Stories’, an enchanting account of life in a Leeds workhouse told by puppets which WLD featured yesterday. Hollybush was also hosting several workshops.

Our plan on Sunday was to visit a cluster of locations off Morris Lane and Hesketh Road. Most of these were private houses and we were struck by the generosity of the owners in letting random strangers into their homes and in one case offering chocolate biscuits.

Finding the venues was easy using the Trail map and looking out for bright yellow bunting outside. Some of the houses were displaying two or three artists.

We enjoyed the acrylic pen landscapes and plants by Mindy Goose, ceramics by Clare Paul, graphic prints by Jon Simmons and abstract paintings and prints by Ailsa Robinson. Under a gazebo in a garden watched over by three chickens we found Christine Hinchliffe with a small collection of rusty found objects.

A short distance away we found a house showing oil landscapes by Simon Dobbs, ‘touchy feely’ mixed media abstracts by Sophie Smith, and intricate papercuts by Aurora Art. And a couple more chickens in the garden.

St Stephen’s Church Hall hosted several artists including Karl Berzins with a collection of oil still lives and landscapes and Neil Simmons showing his mixed-media townscapes.

Finally (for us) a visit to a small upstairs room at St Stephen’s Primary School to view ‘Assembly’ – dozens of small clay figures made by children from Beecroft, Kirkstall Valley and Kirkstall St Stephen’s Primary Schools. It’s possibly a tribute to Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ installation at Crosby Beach.

We missed lots of exhibits, but thoroughly enjoyed what we did see and especially being able to chat to the artists. Who knew Kirkstall had such artistic talent?

There’s more information about the trail here.

Sponsored content



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.