MIL-OSI United Kingdom: Pioneering city centre sculpture leaves lasting legacy in its footsteps

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Source: City of Leeds

An eye-catching Leeds sculpture is walking away after six years on City Square, leaving behind a lasting public art legacy.

Legs Walking has been a feature on the square ever since it was kindly loaned to the city by a private collector in 2018.

The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, has now asked for it to be returned, which will see the colourful sculpture carefully removed from beside the Mill Hill Chapel this week. The sculpture will remain on public display in a yet-to-be-announced new location in Yorkshire.

Made by Leeds-born Kenneth Armitage, widely regarded as one of the 20th Century’s most significant sculptors, Legs Walking was his penultimate work, and was installed alongside Both Arms in Millennium Square’s Mandela Gardens, which will remain in place.

The departure of Legs Walking comes as a new public art legacy is being established in Leeds, with a number of stunning, world class pieces, with Leeds stories at their heart, arriving in the city.

Last November saw Yinka Shonibare’s spectacular Hibiscus Rising installed close to Aire Park. The incredible piece commemorates the life and death of David Oluwale, a British-Nigerian man who died in 1969 after being racially harassed.

The artwork closely followed the opening of The David Oluwale Bridge spanning the River Aire between Sovereign Street and Water Lane.

Later this year will also see the unveiling of Ribbons, a new piece by artist Pippa Hale located near Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus.

Comprised of five steel ribbons, the sculpture will carry the names of almost 400 inspirational Leeds women, including social reformer and suffragist, Isabella Ford, former Olympic boxer, Nicola Adams OBE and Leeds West Indian Carnival founder, Gertrude Paul.

A striking mural designed to spark conversations about violence against women and girls was created at the St Anne’s Resource Centre last year, and a number of murals paying tribute to the city’s local wildlife have also recently been put in place near the Leeds waterfront.

The council is also keen to gather feedback and evaluation in the upcoming months about creative ways to use City Square.

Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, active lifestyles and culture, said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to have Legs Walking on display in the city, and we’d like to thank the owner for allowing this beautiful sculpture to be part of the city’s cultural landscape for so long.

“It’s also inspiring to see the legacy this piece is leaving behind and how it has so successfully paved the way for a new generation of world class public artworks, telling important Leeds stories and capturing the heart and heritage of our city.”


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