The Art Fund’s Art Happens initiative will help Leeds Art Gallery create an immersive site-specific project, which has been conceived by the artist for the gallery’s striking original Victorian staircase dating from 1888, when Leeds Art Gallery first opened to the public.

Leeds Art Gallery recently announced it will be reopening on October 13 after closing in January 2016 for redevelopment, which included repairing the gallery’s Victorian roof. The refurbishment has also provided the gallery with the opportunity to re-present its nationally Designated collection of 20th-century British Art throughout the space.

The new collection displays will feature works not seen for a generation – including the first opportunity to see an extensive display of watercolours by John Sell Cotman; Sir Jacob Epstein’s Maternity (1910-11); and works on paper by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. There will also be an ARTIST ROOMS Joseph Beuys exhibition set across three of the ground floor galleries, new acquisitions by contemporary artists such as American artist Martine Syms and British sculptor Alison Wilding RA and the unveiling of a barrel vaulted glazed roof to the public for the first time, discovered during the repairs, after being hidden for 40 years.

The gallery says that if the Art Happens funds are raised Götz’s site-specific commission will have a huge impact on visitors’ experience of the space.  Götz is a celebrated artist known for creating large-scale, colourful murals, and has lived and worked in the UK for more than 20 years. Götz’s striking wall painting will link the upper and lower galleries, drawing the viewer up the stairs to the new light-filled renovated galleries above. Made with vibrant colours, the contemporary abstract painting will be seen alongside the gallery’s classic original Victorian architecture. The ambitions commission will bridge the old and the new; highlighting how they can work alongside each other.

Central staircase (from Leeds Art Gallery Archive) will be transformed by artist Lothar Götz if the Art Happens crowdfunding appeal is successful
Lothar Götz Crash, 2012 Dimensions variable Mineral paint on wall Installation view: Stufen zur Kunst, Stiftung Niedersachsen/ Kunstverein Hanover, Germany Photo Raimond Zakowski

Götz’s artistic practice exists between architecture, sculpture and painting, and this proposal links to Leeds Art Gallery’s dedication to supporting artists and collecting art of our time. The commission will be creating something unique for the historic building that all visitors can enjoy.

“Staircases provide the veins of a building, immersing the visitor spatially in a different way to that of the traditional gallery space,” said Götz. “I want to turn the staircase of Leeds Art Gallery into a colourful contemporary artwork, juxtaposed with its Victorian architecture.”

Supporters of the crowdfunding campaign will receive unique rewards include a boldly-coloured cup and saucer designed by the artist; afternoon tea in the gallery’s impressive Tiled Hall Café; a ‘behind the scenes’ preview of the work before it is unveiled; and a framed limited-edition print by Götz.

The project can be supported on the Art Fund’s website.

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