Over the past ten years, the once-plain streets of Leeds have been coloured in by artists from near and far – ushering in a new era of street art that’s definitely helped to bring some drab corners of the city back to life.
Some are easier to find than others, but a new street art trail map by LeedsBID makes it simpler than ever to find even the most concealed pieces of street art in Leeds.
We’ve detailed them all below, with a little bit of information to help explain the meaning behind each piece of art.
Check out LeedsBID interactive map showing every location here.
Athena Rising, by Nomad Clan
At over 150ft tall, this mural by Nomad Clan is officially the tallest piece of street art in the UK. The street art painting duo completed this last year outside Leeds train station in a mammoth session that took them 16 days to finish. Done entirely with spray paint, it depicts an owl, moon and crown and can be viewed from the platforms underground as well as from street level.
4’s a crowd, by Nicolas Dixon
Found in Holbeck village at open-air drinking and dining spot Chow Down, this mural by Nicolas Dixon was initially created in partnership with Heart Research Uk to raise awareness for their heART project and the work they do across Yorkshire: funding pioneering medical research into the prevention, treatment, and cure of heart disease.
The Linnet, by ATM
A sort of European finch, the linnet was once a common sight across Yorkshire but its numbers are declining mostly due to intensive farming practices and habitat destruction. This piece of art by London-based artist ATM was created in response to the decline in numbers of this northern feathered friend. ATM almost exclusively paints birds threatened with extinction.
Tropical Bird, by Peachzz
Created for Sheaf Street Leeds on the back of creative workspace Duke Studios, this piece by artist Peachzz brings a little slice of the tropics to West Yorkshire with its brightly coloured tropical birds.
Washing Marine, Ralph Replete
One of the most popular pieces of street art in Leeds, this giant 3D optical illusion from Ralph Replete depicts a deep-sea diver climbing out of a washing machine on its side. When it was first created in 2018, it was believed to be the biggest piece of 3D art in the UK.
Barge, by Benjamin Craven and Jenny Beard
Take a stroll over White Millennium Bridge and you’ll spot this brightly coloured riverside barge moored to the side of 46 The Calls. Now used as a quirky office space, the once-dull 100-year-old dredger barge was transformed by Leeds arts alumni Benjamin Craven and Jenny Beard.
Keep your eyes peeled here because there’s another, harder to spot piece of artwork nearby – The Grey Heron, by Peter Barber. Designed to be submerged and then reappear as the water level changes, it was funded by the Waterfront Enhancement Fund.
Paving the Way, Akse P19
Street artist Akse P19 is known for immortalising pop culture icons in spray paint. Here, past and present Leeds United legends stand proud looking out over the city centre with Leeds playmaker Kalvin Phillips taking centre stage, alongside legends Albert Johanneson and Lucas Radabe. The mural also marked a new collaboration between the club and New York entertainment agency Roc Nation, with the NYC skyline depicted in the background.
Another piece down by the waterfront, commissioned by the canal and river trust. Obviously, the owl, the symbol of Leeds, had to make an appearance.
Faces of Leeds, Affix
Centred on portraits of personalities with a link to the city, this mural by Affix depicts playwright Alan Bennett, humanitarian Sue Ryder, broadcaster John Craven and boxer Nicola Adams OBE.
You & Me, Me & You, Anthony Burrill
Towering 88ft high, this striking lettering delivers a simple message of hope to the city from former Leeds Beckett student Anthony Burrill.
Insa X Moniker, by Insa
This groundbreaking mural was created to be both carbon conscious and zero-waste production. Painted using the world’s most eco-friendly brand, it depicts a rainbow sunset covered with bold linework to communicate the need for us all to better protect the earth.
Graphical House, Mr Penfold
Cambridgeshire artist Mr Penfold’s style is very distinct and hard to miss. This piece stands opposite Calls Landing on the corner of The Calls and Wharf Street and certainly brings a big pop of colour into the area.
United We Stand, Jiem
Painted in the city’s home team colours, this street art mural is the first in a series that takes inspiration from the role and importance of football in Leeds.
Pablo, Adam Duffield
Standing at 50ft above street level, this mural immortalises an iconic moment in Leeds United history. Artist Adam Duffield captures Pablo Hernandez’s celebration following a crucial winning goal at Swansea City, seen to be a big moment in the club’s move back to the Premier League after 16 years.
Tribute, Two Times
Here at Belgrave Music Hall are two pieces by collective Two Times, aka Benjamin Craven and Edan MF. The first (pictured above) is a striking tribute to the late hip-hop legend MF Doom, the second – installed directly below – is an abstract piece that brings pops of blue, red and yellow amidst a black and white striped design.
Common Ground, Mike Winnard
Inspired by the phrase ‘Common Ground’, this artwork depicts the saying in numerous different languages spoken in Leeds. Winnard has also included local, historical, and cultural iconography such as flags, plants and animals to emphasise our connectivity with one another.
Spix’s Macaws, Jane Laurie
Two blue Brazilian birds nestle together on a boarded-up window in this mural by Jane Laurie, which depicts the plight of the Spix’s Macaw – considered extinct in the wild since 2000 because of human destruction of their habitat.
Cornucopia, by Graeme Wilson
Painted in 1990 to brighten up the area during the renovation of the neighbouring Corn Exchange, today this mural by Graeme Wilson is a well-known landmark. A must-see, it has received the Leeds Award for Architecture and the Environment.
George Street Welcome, Nathan Evans
This bright 20m long mural can be found on the exterior of the iconic Leeds Kirkgate Market, welcoming visitors to the city with hand-drawn lettering that spells out ‘Hello and Welcome To Leeds’.
Headrow House wall, by Jack of All
This beautiful pastel wall art by Jack of All animates the walk into Ox Club or the beer hall at Headrow House (and the soon-to-be entrance to House of Fu).
Forms of Real Estate, Edan MF
This was painted by Edan MF, a former head chef at The Brunswick. Reportedly, he was absolutely honoured to have his artwork up on his favourite city centre pub.
Rob Burrow, Akse P19
This mural of Leeds Rhinos rugby league legend Rob Burrow was painted by Akse P19 in recognition of his contribution to the city and his courage in tackling and raising awareness of motor neurone disease.
Winifred, by Qubek
This hidden treasure sits in the heart of the city’s commercial sector and is only visible via a walkway between two buildings. Painted by Mancunian artist Qubek, it depicts a giant elephant named after the artist’s grandma and inspired by the city’s cultural heritage. Here, the mills mark Leeds industrial past whilst the white roses nod to Yorkshire.
Josh Warrington, Akse P19
This relatively new mural by Akse P19 depicts ‘Leeds Warrier’ Josh Warrington’s most memorable win of the IBF World Featherweight title at Elland Road in his home city, as well as his desire to “put Leeds on the map”.
Paving the Way, by EV / Emma Hardaker
This non-slip floor mural is the finished product the result of a series of workshops with students from MAP. Students drew inspiration from textures and patterns found in local architecture to create the impressive finished product.
Mabgate Mural, Janet de Wagt
This historical street art dates all the way back to 1987. Created with artistic input from young people living locally at the time, it was originally painted to brighten up a gable end but has since become a firm street art favourite in Leeds.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, design for tomorrow, by Peter Barber
Last but not least, Peter Barber has animated the windows of this Edwardian building with bright typography and fonts. Here, he borrows a phrase from Albert Einstein to refer to the site’s cultural neighbours, Quarry Hill.
Do you know any more pieces of hidden street art in Leeds that we have left out? Let us know and we’ll include them.
Feature image – LeedsBID.