A City Less Grey has enabled us to create a recognisable platform for artists to help us explore our relationship to our urban environment. Each new piece of work contributes to on-going debates about who owns and has access to our streets, the importance of process v product, and creating work with and for specific communities.
In 2017 we commissioned Lille based artist collective Wonderlust as part of our Creative Europe project, Ex(s)ports. They created several pieces around the city that took as reference galvanising slogans associated with Leeds United that could also be a call to the citizens of the city. The impact of the work highlighted a need for support for artists working in public places and City Less Grey was developed.
A City Less Grey takes its name and inspiration directly from the Mayor of Tirana in Albania, Edi Rama who decided his City needed more colour and encouraged the painting of their houses in bright colours to reduce the amount of grey and create a new civic spirit.
We believe taking on the name A City Less Grey references the need to make changes to our streets and neighbourhoods and to commission artists to develop their ideas and bring colour and form to buildings, hoardings and unallocated land. Aesthetics matter to the day-to-day lives of residents and workers as it affects the way they interact with the public places and streets of their city. A City Less Grey aims to combat the growing sameness of new developments and offer Leeds something unique.
We see this development as a slow burn as each piece of work can take time to evolve finding the artists, audiences/participants, funds, context, and site. We are also increasingly interested in how the city centre and the neighbourhoods outside of the centre are linked through the artists work.
In 2018 A City Less Grey received national recognition at the Planning Awards winning the Best Use of Arts, Culture and Sport in Place-making.
In 2019 the project won best award for art in the public realm at Leeds Architecture Awards.