The city’s unsung sporting heroes are set to be honoured through eye-catching new street art as part of an inspiring project to bring Leeds’s glory days to life.
On the Pitch, Off the Pitch will see five new murals created around the city, each paying tribute to the individuals, clubs and stories which have shaped the city’s rich sporting legacy.
Led by Leeds Museums and Galleries, the project will see museum experts working alongside local artists and community groups over the next year, exploring and uncovering some of the fascinating, lesser-known exploits of those who have competed over the centuries and linking them with the city’s museum collection.
The project has been made possible by a £210,665 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund through their Dynamic Collections programme.
As well as creating new murals and digital artwork, the project will record a series of interviews with people involved in sports in Leeds alongside video footage capturing sport taking place in public locations across the city.
These will be entered into the Leeds collection so they can be captured and conserved for future generations.
Leeds Museums and Galleries project curator Catherine Robins said: “Leeds has an incredibly rich and diverse sporting history filled with fascinating events, stories and characters.
“Many of the teams and individuals who have been part in that story are rightly celebrated in some of the stunning public artworks we see around the city. But there are many others whose contributions may not be as well-known, but who have still played their own unique and integral role in sport in Leeds.
“Through this project, we hope to shed some new light on those stories and through our collection better connect and represent local people and communities with the celebration of the city’s sporting heritage.”
The project will run until next summer, with murals expected to be commissioned around October this year in locations yet to be decided.
Sporting murals already in place around Leeds include a stunning tribute to former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa in Hyde Park, a mural honouring Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow on the side of Leeds Beckett University and an artwork of former world champion boxer Josh Warrington under the A58 flyover.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds is a city that’s rightly proud of its incredible sporting heritage we always want to celebrate those who have given us so many unforgettable memories.
“This project will give us a perfect opportunity to rediscover some of the city’s unsung sporting heroes and further enrich both our urban landscape and the story of sport in Leeds.”
Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to support Leeds Museums and Galleries with this project that will work with local people to explore the stories of unsung heroes and creatively showcase the city’s rich sporting heritage. We know that heritage plays a huge role in bringing people together and creating a sense of pride in local communities, and this project is sure to do just that.”