Favourite Places and Favourite Buildings in Leeds City Centre
With Yorkshire Day just passed, I’ve been thinking about some of my favourite places in Leeds City Centre – or ‘town’ as everyone there calls it.
I wasn’t born in Leeds but I have lived there most of my life and I have a strong sense of connection to the city. While I spend a lot of time exploring the hidden and forgotten spaces, there are also places and buildings in the middle of the hustle and bustle of office workers and department stores that I particularly love.
Here are some of my favourites:
Generally known as ‘the Dalek Building’ and there’s no denying it does bear more than a passing resemblance to the outline of one of the Universe’s most fearsome aliens. It was a controversial addition to Leeds already very varied skyline. Personally, I think it’s a thing of a beauty (though I really like the actual Dalek design so perhaps I’m biased). It’s instantly recognisable and almost as impressive inside. It also contains a particularly nice branch of Starbucks.
Close to Leeds’ famous – though to be honest, not to my taste – Royal Armouries, Clarence Dock is a long, rectangular area of water adjacent to the River Aire. It’s usually home to old fashioned barges which make for a striking contrast with the surrounding architecture which shows Leeds at its most modern. I like the sense of space and freedom in Clarence Dock. It seems to exist in its own little 21st Century bubble.
Leeds Art Gallery
One of my absolute favourite places! Leeds Art Gallery has a regularly changing program of shows. In recent years, it has played host to exhibitions by, amongst others, Henry Moore, Sean Scully, Fiona Rae, Nike Savvas and – a year before the Tate retrospective – Damien Hirst. It also hosts the annual Northern Arts Prize. The figure above has been standing outside the Gallery as part of the city’s celebrations of the Tour de France. There is a good mixture of art to appeal to a variety of tastes both traditional and modern. It’s free and always worth a look.
The Henry Moore Institute
An impressive building standing next to the Gallery, the Henry Moore Institute is home to an ongoing program of different exhibitions exploring the evolution of sculpture. Sometimes thought provoking, sometimes dramatic, sometimes baffling, each show is always very different to the last. The interior is wonderfully light. A place of thought.
Hidden away near the Town Hall, Park Square is a small but lovely park. It’s the perfect place to spend a hot summer lunchtime. There are beautiful roses and the whole area is generally well looked after. I read most of the Harry Potter books there as well as Naked Lunch and Lord of the Flies, so it really is a place for all moods. The tree in the photo is one of my favourite features: stripped of leaves and branches but slowly coming back to life.
I love this building. It’s so geometrical and angular. When I was a child, I used to enjoy books and TV series featuring alien cities and Prince’s Exchange feels like it would be at home standing in another world and at a future time. I’ve photographed it many times from different angles. It’s formed the basis for several of my abstract digital pieces, including the one below called, appropriately enough, The City.