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The Leeds Tapestry

During September this year Leeds Central Library had a visit from two year 4 classes from Farsley Springbank Primary School. They came to Central Library to see the Leeds Tapestries, which are housed on the 1st floor in the corridor between the Art Library and the Music Library. The Children’s Librarian spoke to the groups of children about the rich content and background of the tapestries. The children then had a chance to explore the tapestries with a question sheet to find the answers within each panel. This session forms part of the Leeds libraries Heritage offer to school.

The Tapestries were created between 1992-2002 and it was a community arts project to celebrate the millennium. The project was devised by Kate Russell who is a local community artist. Her vision was to create a rich tapestry of Leeds life, involving all different sectors of the city. There are 16 panels, they measure 2.4mX1.5m and each has a separate theme including; education, health, transport, industry etc.

There are a huge amount of different skills and techniques used from embroidery to photo printing to rag rugging.

Community Spirit panel

Community Spirit panel

Detail from the Enterprise panel

Detail from the Enterprise panel

Sporting Life panel

Sporting Life panel

Kate wanted it to be a valuable creative experience for all volunteers, so brought in high level tuition with professional artists. Records were kept of every piece of work and every volunteer, which can be found in ‘The Leeds Tapestry’ book, which is available in the Art Library.

The Leeds Tapestry book

The Leeds Tapestry book

To get an understanding of the time scale of the project you need to realise how long each component took to be created. For example on the ‘The Legal Sector’ panel there is a small piece depicting three judges which took 52 hours alone to complete. This piece in particular was then taken around various legal organisations to demonstrate the project and raise funds and support.

Three Judges, detail from Pro Rege et Lege panel

Three Judges, detail from Pro Rege et Lege panel

A really nice example that we showed the children from Farsley which is on the ‘Pins and Needles’ panel, is a couple of pieces representing Bonds shop. This is a haberdashery shop in Farsley, most of the children recognised the shop and created a really lovely connection for them to make. At the time the shop gave supplies to the project and became a sponsor in return to feature on the tapestry.

Bond's Shop, detail from the Pins and Needles panel

Bond’s Shop, detail from the Pins and Needles panel

The tapestries are really worth a visit if you are in Leeds City Centre and everyone can find something within the panels that they can relate to. From the skills and techniques used to the stories behind each individual piece which illustrates the wonderful rich history of Leeds. You can arrange a guided tour of the tapestries through Enquiry Express. The Art Library sells the catalogue, as well as the book and souvenir postcards. The Art Library also has stock of the book that you can borrow using your Leeds Library card.

The Leeds Tapestry books available to purchase in the Art Library

The Leeds Tapestry books available to purchase in the Art Library

Contact Enquiry Express for further information enquiry.express@leeds.gov.uk 2476016.

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