Leeds Arts University students unveil art at Kirkstall Forge

22 January 2021

Work by students from Leeds Arts University is to being showcased at Kirkstall Forge in Leeds after a commission to produce artwork for property group CEG’s prototype homes.

More than eighty students applied with twenty selected from a wide variety of courses from BA (Hons) Textile Design and BA (Hons) Fine Art to BA (Hons) Photography. The project was designed to help students not only be creative, but also enhance their commercial acumen. From the interpretation and delivery of their work through to their negotiation skills in agreeing a budget and working closely with the client to finalise the piece.

At 57-acres, Kirkstall Forge is one of the largest brownfield sites under development in the north.  The area has a long industrial heritage and is paving the way to be a thriving mixed-use community set in a wooded riverside valley. Ultimately the site will deliver 1,050 new homes, 300,000 sq ft of offices and 100,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and community space. The winning artworks are now displayed throughout the prototype homes.

Image: Artwork by Ethan Dodd-Atkins, BA (Hons) Fine Art and Aisling Ramshaw from CEG.

CEG worked with Careers, Employability & Enterprise at Leeds Arts University on the brief. The team facilitate access to the arts and creative industries for students through talks and mentoring delivered by sector professionals, work placements, industry events or live, commercial briefs. 

Ekaterina Sheath, one of the commissioned students studying BA (Hons) Illustration said: “The pieces I created were based on reportage drawings I did on location while at Kirkstall Forge. After reading the brief I felt that the landscape and history surrounding the area was integral to the project and wanted to experience it for myself…I was extremely pleased to have won the commission as it has given me a brilliant opportunity to develop my portfolio and own practise.” 

Image: Alexander Anderson MA Curation Practices.

Image: Milena Graf BA (Hons) Animation.

Claire Collen, an Access to HE Diploma (Art & Design) student, added that "The brief certainly challenged me to step right outside my comfort zone and be brave enough to offer work to be judged by others. The whole process gave me my first glimpse into the professional world of an artist.”

The Leeds Arts University students commissioned are Alannah Dolan, Georgia Ashworth and Emma Shakeshaft from BA (Hons) Textile Design; Alexander Anderson and Lucy Bergman from MA Curation Practices; Amy Brown and Katya Sheath from BA (Hons) Illustration; Catriona O'Donnell and Milena Graf from BA (Hons) Animation; Chris Grisley, Nicola Garvey, Susan Daubney and Ethan Dodds Adkins from BA (Hons) Fine Art; Christina Little, Jonathan Whittingham and Daria Kowalczyk from BA (Hons) Visual Communication; Claire Collen from Access to HE Diploma (Art & Design); India Parsell Horrobin from Extended Diploma in Creative Practice; Kanon Noel Parr from BA (Hons) Comic and Concept Art and Shanon Lee Thompson, BA (Hons) Photography.

Aisling Ramshaw, Head of Sales and Marketing at Kirkstall Forge, said: “We needed unique pieces of artwork for our architect designed homes. They could reflect the history of the site as the oldest continually commercial site in the UK or its future as one of the most sustainable and technologically advanced places to live and work.

We were delighted by the calibre and range of paintings, textiles, photography and digital artworks entered and it was very difficult to shortlist the entries. We have selected 20 of the most vibrant, striking and individual pieces which reflect the way that every detail of the design of this special place has been considered.”