Leeds Museums and Galleries explore First World War collections and graphic design with artist-in-residence Ian Kirkpatrick

Picture caption: Contemporary artist Ian Kirkpatrick has joined the Leeds Museums and Galleries team.

Leeds Museums and Galleries will be working with contemporary artist Ian Kirkpatrick as part of a special project, ‘A Graphic War’, which will investigate the strategic role that graphic design played in the First World War.

This collaboration, which was born from Leeds Museums and Galleries’ success in applying to the Leverhulme Artist in Residence grant scheme, will see Ian in the next few months immerse himself in Leeds’ extensive First World War archive and work with young people to re-interpret items from the collection.

Through ‘A Graphic War: design at home and on the front lines (1914-1918)’, Ian, working closely with curator Lucy Moore, will draw together artefacts from the Leeds Museums and Galleries’ collections and take an entirely new look at the conflict through the lens of its graphic design outputs. A range of important questions will be asked including, how was graphic design of First World War objects, such as maps, notebooks, ration cards, pencils and postcards deployed by allied and opposition forces during the conflict? Was graphic design intended for consumption by soldiers different in tone, tactic or quality from that consumed on the home front, and it did it become more nationalistic as the war progressed? This new collaboration will focus on design as a communicative, emotional and logistic tool and will examine its influence on life both at home and on the front lines of the battlefield.

The wide range of research undertaken in ‘A Graphic War’ will culminate in a new body of artwork by Ian, which is set to be presented in a city-wide programme in Leeds during November 2015. Exhibited in a special sculpture trail at multiple sites with the aim of engaging new audiences and, each display will be accompanied by video documentation of Ian’s creative process, along with linked commentary about the artefacts that inspired it. Ian’s work is contemporary in appearance, yet has a strong base in archival and object-based research. He has exhibited his sculptural work internationally and across the UK, including for the recent Tour de France and the Cultural Olympiad.

As part of Leeds Museums and Galleries ambition to use graphic design as a means to make the First World War relevant to younger audiences, Ian will work closely with the Preservative Party, a local youth curatorial collective, to develop artworks inspired by First World War.

For further details on how local groups can get involved in this fantastic opportunity, please contact Lucy Moore at lucy.moore@leeds.gov.uk

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"Working with partners, Leeds Museums and Galleries has put together a wide ranging and diverse First World War programme, and we are delighted to welcome contemporary artist Ian to our team as he lends his considerable skill and expertise to our ‘A Graphic War’ project.

"A Graphic War will provide a fascinating insight into the role that graphic design in all of its facets played at home and abroad, and I am looking forward to seeing what Ian and our curator Lucy find through their research. This will culminate in Ian displaying a new body of art work this November, which really will be something not to be missed."

Notes to editors:

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 they have provided grants and scholarships for research and education; today, they are one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year.

They award funding across academic disciplines, supporting talented individuals in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences to realise their personal vision in research and professional training. As well as substantial grants for research, they offer fellowships for researchers at every stage of their career, grants for international collaboration and travel, and support for the fine and performing arts.


For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk