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Leeds paint shop overflows with art for exhibition on Boxing Day floods

Seagulls Paint Store in Aire Mills, Kirkstall Road

By Lauren Entwistle

A LEEDS paint shop has transformed the damage caused by the Kirkstall Floods into beautiful works of art.

The new exhibition, created by environmentally-friendly social enterprise Seagulls Reuse, is titled ‘Beauty from the Floods’ and is currently being hosted at North Bar in Leeds.

The recycled paint store was hit by the deluge of water when the River Aire broke its banks in December 2015.

Andrew Sanderson, 24, who is head of disposal at the shop was the first person to enter the property after the flood.

“Straightaway I was shocked. It was horrible. There was paint floating everywhere and you couldn’t actually open the door because one of the shelves had dropped.

“Paint, gloss and varnishes were all in the water – it wasn’t a pretty sight,” he said.

With the help of the community, including assistance provided from Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre, the warehouse was cleaned up within a few weeks.

Project manager Cat Hyde recalls taking photographs of the spilled paint, water and silt which had left some “striking patterns”.

“This place is sort of a photographer’s dream, there was so much colour and patterns and the surfaces looked pretty cool.

“We never even knew there was such a thing as Accidental Art, but now we’ve found there’s a huge movement… we fit quite well in it,” said Cat.

The photographs have now been turned into a limited-edition run of screen-prints by Jonny Akers and will be held at North Bar until April 5.

Beauty from the Flood – North Bar

James Downing, 31, deputy manager of North Bar, said: “They look really interesting and abstract. It’s cool to think that they were organically formed by a disaster – that’s very new.”

All prints are for sale with profits supporting the Seagulls Initiative.

The shop aims to help those who are marginalised by offering opportunities for training, volunteering and employment.

Cat said: “We’re a social enterprise and we work with many varied people across the city..

“Part of that is a volunteering programme that we run for those who might have fallen out of society for all sorts of different reasons, so any profit we make goes back into the business.

“Creating and selling the art seemed like a good way to make money to put back into the enterprise.”


Leeds Floods Fact File:

  • Storm Eva, the extratropical cyclone that hit England and Ireland came just three weeks after Storm Desmond, which had already battered Northern England.

  • Eva had gusts of wind that hit 83mph.

  • On Boxing Day 2015, the River Aire broke its banks and flooded, blocking the Kirkstall Road area – one of the main roads into the city.

  • Around 3,000 homes were cut off without power that day in North and West Yorkshire due to an electricity substation being damaged by floodwater.

  • Across Leeds and Bradford, over 256 Flood Relief Grants were distributed to households and individuals while 28 charities and community projects received support.




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