The overlooked sporting heroes of the city are soon to receive recognition through captivating new street art, as a part of an inspiring initiative aimed at reviving Leeds’s glorious past.
Under the title “On the Pitch, Off the Pitch,” five fresh murals will be crafted across the cityscape. Each mural will serve as a tribute to the individuals, clubs, and narratives that have played a pivotal role in shaping the city’s vibrant sporting heritage.
Led by Leeds Museums and Galleries, the undertaking will involve collaboration between museum experts, local artists, and community groups over the upcoming year. Their collective efforts will delve into and unearth some of the captivating yet less prominent achievements of those who have competed over the centuries, drawing connections to the city’s museum collection.
This project has been made feasible through a generous £210,665 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, facilitated by their Dynamic Collections programme.
In addition to producing fresh murals and digital artwork, the initiative will document a series of interviews with individuals engaged in sports within Leeds. Furthermore, video footage capturing sporting events in public spaces across the city will be recorded. These valuable materials will become part of the Leeds collection, ensuring their preservation for generations to come.
Leeds Museums and Galleries project curator Catherine Robins said: “Leeds has an incredibly rich and diverse sporting history filled with fascinating events, stories and characters.
“Many of the teams and individuals who have been part in that story are rightly celebrated in some of the stunning public artworks we see around the city. But there are many others whose contributions may not be as well-known, but who have still played their own unique and integral role in sport in Leeds.
“Through this project, we hope to shed some new light on those stories and through our collection better connect and represent local people and communities with the celebration of the city’s sporting heritage.”
The project will run until next summer, with murals expected to be commissioned around October this year in locations yet to be decided.
Sporting murals already in place around Leeds include a stunning tribute to former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa in Hyde Park, a mural honouring Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow on the side of Leeds Beckett University and an artwork of former world champion boxer Josh Warrington under the A58 flyover.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds is a city that’s rightly proud of its incredible sporting heritage we always want to celebrate those who have given us so many unforgettable memories.
“This project will give us a perfect opportunity to rediscover some of the city’s unsung sporting heroes and further enrich both our urban landscape and the story of sport in Leeds.”
Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to support Leeds Museums and Galleries with this project that will work with local people to explore the stories of unsung heroes and creatively showcase the city’s rich sporting heritage. We know that heritage plays a huge role in bringing people together and creating a sense of pride in local communities, and this project is sure to do just that.”