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Leeds City Museum opens exhibition on seasons featuring world-famous Leeds artist John Atkinson Grimshaw

Leeds City Museums ‘For All Seasons’ exhibition entrance.

By Abbey Gray

LEEDS CITY Museum is hosting a new exhibition about the seasons, with items from traditional clothing to hand painted Easter eggs – as well as paintings by world-famous Victorian artist John Atkinson Grimshaw.

Atkinson Grimshaw is one of the most well-known artists of his time period and worked and lived in Leeds.

John Atkinson Grimshaw’s paintings on display at Leeds City Museum. Atkinson Grimshaw was a Victorian painter, best known for his landscapes. He was born on 6 September 1836 in Leeds. He died in 1893 and is buried in Woodhouse Cemetery, Leeds. He began exhibiting his art in 1862 with the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society with paintings mainly of dead birds, blossom and fruit. In the 1870s he expanded to drawing landscapes, particularly at night time, creating scenes in ‘moonlights’ which he is most recognised for today.

His artwork featured in the For All Seasons exhibition include paintings of his home city that are currently on loan from Leeds Art Gallery.

The gallery is currently closed for refurbishment, so his work is featured in the exhibition so that it remains viewable for the public.

The paintings fit perfectly into the exhibition as there is one for each season including a watercolour of a bird’s nest for spring, views of Leeds during summer, a mill during autumn and a snowy landscape for winter.

The spring section of the exhibition.

‘For All Seasons’ began on February 10 and runs until August 28.

The free exhibition allows visitors to view exhibits that illustrate the ways spring, summer, autumn and winter influence the world.

Organisers say ‘For All Seasons’ promises to be a unique interactive but educational experience for families as it includes animals, games, music and history.

Ruth Martin, curator of events at Leeds City Museum said: “Fun is definitely the main thing that I’d hope people get from the exhibition and also learning a bit about what happens to the world around us as the seasons change and spotting those for themselves.

“There’s a real mixture of our collection, there’s a bit of something for everyone whether you’re into artwork, costume, the social history of Leeds, all of those things are in the exhibition.”

Traditional holiday attire featured in the exhibition.

The pond for spring where visitors can ‘Hook a duck’.


For the season of spring, the exhibit focuses on new life including the butterfly life cycle and eggs.

For summer, it looks into holidays and features traditional clothing through the ages including a 1975 swimsuit and bonnets.

For autumn, the exhibit looks at preparing for winter, animal hibernation and storing food.

For winter it teaches visitors how best to keep warm and about the migration of birds.


The exhibition features centrepieces for each of the seasons and these include a giant sandcastle for summer, an indoor tree for autumn, a traditional sledge for winter and a hook-a-duck pond for spring.

Surrounding these centrepieces are a variety of wildlife, delicate ceramics, paintings, historic seasonal fashions and some 100 year-old decorative Easter eggs.

Hand painted and wooden Easter eggs.

The history of Easter Eggs

  • Easter is a religious holiday but the eggs are believed to be linked to pagan traditions. An egg is an ancient symbol of new life and new beginnings and has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. For Christians, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus emerging from the tomb.

  • Since the 13th Century decorating Easter Eggs has been a tradition. This began when eggs were a forbidden food during the Lenten season which led to people painting and decorating them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting and they would then eat them on Easter to celebrate.

  • In the 17th and 18th Centuries the idea of the egg-shaped toy emerged and these were given to children and Easter and were often filled with sweets.

  • The first solid chocolate Easter eggs are thought to have been crafted in Germany and France at the beginning of the 19th Century.

  • The first chocolate egg in the UK is attributed to JS Fry of Bristol in 1873.

  • In 1875, Cadbury made their first Easter egg while rivals Rowntree waited until 1904 and it was not until 1987 that Mars entered the market.

  • Today, the UK chocolate Easter egg market is worth in excess of £220 million with sales growing each year as the choice of eggs expands.

  • Cadbury Creme Egg is the most popular as over 500 million Creme Eggs are made each year with about two thirds of that being bought in the UK. That equates to 3.5 Cadbury Creme Eggs for every person in the UK to enjoy.

Hand painted Easter eggs.



Autumn tree where visitors can draw and add their own leaf.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “The seasons, and the profound effect they have on the world, have been an inspiration to some of history’s most celebrated artists, sculptors, composers and musicians and it’s wonderful that the museum will be celebrating this in such an interactive and accessible way.



“I’m sure visitors and families will have a lot of fun exploring the many features that make spring, summer, autumn and winter so unique and learning how they come together to shape our year.”

Specially-recorded classical piano sheet music from the museum’s collection including Summer Blossoms by Ezra Read and Autumn from The Four Seasons by Frederic Mullen is played throughout the exhibition.



A programme of talks and activities including survival skills workshops over the February half term will also take place within the exhibition.

For more details about the exhibition and the programme of activities, visit:

Upcoming exhibitions at Leeds Museums & Galleries

  • ‘Dying Matters’ at Leeds City Museum – 16 December – 30 July 2017. The exhibition is part of the national Dying Matters initiative which promotes public awareness of dying, death and bereavement. It explores objects related to death from a range of cultures and seeks to start conversations and encourage visitors to think about their own end of life.

  • ‘Fairy Tales & Fantasy’ at Abbey House Museum – 21 January – 31 December 2017. The exhibition showcases familiar fairy tales including Aladdin and Cinderella as well as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. It looks at different interpretations of the tales and looks at how the stories offer an escape from the struggles of real life.

  • ‘Fashionable Yorkshire‘– 500 years of style’ at Lotherton Fashion Galleries – 17 March – 31 December 2017. Explores the history of fashion from the clothes and personal stories of Yorkshire women.

  • ‘Flood Response’ at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills – December 2016 – June 2017. Last year Leeds experienced the most significant floods since records began. The exhibition has been co-curated by the people of Leeds to mark the event one year on and features photographs, stories and artistic responses from those who were affected by the floods.

  • ‘Women Work and War’ at Leeds Industrial Museum – ends 24 September 2017. The exhibition looks at the variety of roles women had in Leeds throughout the First World War.


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