By Alex Smith
LEEDS ART gallery showed off striking new exhibits when it reopened its doors following a £4.5 million refurbishment.
The 18-month renovation project uncovered a magnificent barrel vaulted glass roof, which had remained hidden by a false ceiling for 40 years, and was unveiled to the public on Friday (October 13).
Among the new acquisitions displayed is a crowdfunded abstract mural, by Lothar Götz, and an exhibition dedicated to German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), featuring sculptures, works on paper and personal belongings.
The gallery is also the first recipient of the VNXXCAS scheme, and has been selected to display A Pilot for a Show about Nowhere, a film by Los Angeles-based artist Martine Syms and shown for the first time in the UK.
The landmark scheme, established between art collector Valeria Napoleone and the Contemporary Art Society, aims to purchase and donate a significant work by a female artist to a UK museum every year.
Marcus Crofton, communications manager for the Contemporary Art Society said: “The scheme looks at gender inequalities in museum collections. It aims to challenge museums to take a look at their own collections and address the gender imbalance.
“We felt that Leeds Gallery was doing the best job at addressing gender inequality, especially since their refurbishment.”
Sarah Brown, principal keeper for Leeds Art Gallery said that acquiring the piece was part of a greater effort by the gallery to expand its collection of works of film.
Given Leed’s status as the birthplace of film, as Louis Le Prince shot arguably the world’s first film in Leeds in 1888, she felt that the gallery should represent this heritage.
Regarding the results of the refurbishment, she said that she was “delighted” with the result.
She added: “Leeds Gallery is really pivotal to the culture of Leeds, it’s been here for 130 years. It’s the collection, it’s everyone’s collection, we’re free, and I think that the gallery is vital to the city.”
Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Leeds Art Gallery is a wonderful and iconic element of our city’s fantastic cultural offer.
“Now that we are moving full steam ahead with our 2023 European Capital of Culture bid, it is brilliant to see the return of Leeds Art Gallery which, internationally recognised and celebrated, will offer another timely reminder of why our bid is so varied and strong.”