Review: Changing Faces of Leeds at Leeds City Museum

Rooted in the heart of the Millennium Square and flanked by the various chain restaurants and bars, stands a beloved staple of the city centre, The Leeds City Museum. Amongst its ever-present exhibits of the ‘Leeds Tiger’ and Nesyamun, the 3000 year old Mummy, the top floor of museum is currently playing host to its latest exhibition, Changing Faces of Leeds.

Curated by Ruth Leach, the project delves into the various representations of the multifaceted residents of both past and present Leeds. An interactive piece between the museum and Leach, both parties requested public submissions to uncover just a few of the faces that make up the city. The exhibition showcases the best of these contemporary submissions, and positions them alongside Victorian era photography. These include antique images of former Lord Mayors of Leeds, mostly taken in Leeds’ first photographic studio on the Park Row, owned by renowned printer and engraver Samuel Topham.

From the hundreds of entries, some of the images provided were taken by Simon Cullingworth, Jodie Beardmore and Rebecca Major. The exhibition acts as a love letter to Leeds; the public interaction creates empathy and builds a relationship between the exhibition and the city. A variety of photographs have been specifically chosen to provide an insight into what defines the city of Leeds. Whether this is a panoramic shot of the Trinity building, lit up during evening darkness, a collage made up of a mother’s three children, or an interesting portrait of a heavily tattooed man in his studio.

The large, open space of the exhibition room is simple, yet effective in its layout of the pieces. On entry to the exhibition, you are greeted by various smiling selfies of many individuals. From here, Leach has laid out the imagery in a clockwise structure, linking towards a timeline. She begins with the Victorian photography and a brief history, before leading onto the contemporary imagery and submissions. The large, white room allows the focus to lay solely on the imagery, and enables the viewer to form their own opinions on the project. There is an obvious warmth, joy and happiness visible within the diversity of each of the images and within those who captured the pictures.

The exhibition will run until June 5th, with various workshops occurring during its tenure. A thrilling idea to draw attention to such a unique and multicultural city, whilst also shining a spotlight on the vibrance of Leeds. A definite must see.

For more info visit the website!

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