City-wide sculpture trail shows a graphic picture of life in wartime Leeds: blast-image2.jpg

28 Oct 2015

City-wide sculpture trail shows a graphic picture of life in wartime Leeds

Museums and galleries

Eye-catching sculptures inspired by the powerful imagery of the First World War will take the people of Leeds on a journey around some of the city’s most iconic locations.

A Graphic War has seen four unique creations placed across the city centre, each examining different aspects of the conflict through the medium of graphic design.

Commissioned by Leeds Museums and Galleries with funding and support from the Leverhulme Trust, the sculptures have been created by contemporary artist Ian Kirkpatrick, who has looked at the different ways graphics influenced life both at home and on the front lines during the Great War.

Originally from Canada, Ian now works from his studio at Leeds’s East Street Arts and his sculptures have been exhibited across the UK and internationally.

For A Graphic War, Ian has placed his sculptures at Leeds City Museum, the Trinity Leeds shopping centre and Leeds Kirkgate Market as well as independent shop, Colours May Vary.

He said he hoped people in Leeds would be “ambushed by the art” as the sculptures led them on their journey through the city centre.

He said: “I hope people will look at these sculptures and appreciate them as standalone works of art – and also as collections of research into the Great War.

“The pieces are all inspired by artefacts in the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection. I wanted to engage with local history and use it to examine the way graphics and imagery were used during the war.

“Some of the graphics of the First World War were so iconic and I’ve tried to present them in a new and contemporary way.”

A Graphic War starts with BLAST! at Leeds City Museum, which depicts a golden machine gunner, then Britannia at Trinity Leeds, which shows the classic figure of Britannia astride a tank, Kingdom of Dreams at Leeds Kirkgate Market, a spectacular unicorn, and finally Enemy of the Stars at Colours May Vary, which shows a stricken airship merged with a dove of peace.

Ian’s work is heavily influenced by commercial packaging design, and is designed on computers and then assembled in “flat pack” style.

Once completed, each of the sculptures collapses and can then be reassembled on site on their own plinths as “instant” exhibitions.

Ian’s previous work has included representations of ancient decorative vessels such as Greek vases and Egyptian sarcophagi.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“These sculptures are a really engaging and unusual combination of modern, contemporary art and the unique imagery of the First World War that I’m sure will capture the imaginations of both art lovers and those visiting the city centre.

“As we prepare to commemorate the extraordinary sacrifice of those who fought so bravely, it’s also a measure of how profound and timeless the impact of the First World War has been that it still has such a powerful influence on our art and culture today.”

A Graphic War runs until November 30. Please check individual venue opening times.

For more information, please visit:

For more information about Ian’s work, visit

Follow the sculpture trail’s journey on Twitter using #AGraphicWar



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.


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Stuart Robinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3937


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team