December 9, 2020

Creative Arts students from University Centre Leeds have worked with local artist, Emma Hardaker, to create a series of artistic banners on Regent Street, as part of the ‘Building Bridges’ project.

Launched by infrastructure group, Balfour Beatty, Building Bridges aims to enhance Regent Street and its surrounding areas through public art. In a bid to improve the visual aesthetics of the up-and-coming Mabgate area, nine students have worked with Emma on a live brief to design vibrant banners which are displayed in the area.

Emma Hardaker, project lead who works at Leeds City College as a creative industry link coordinator, ran a series of online workshops to educate students on mid-century geometry and patterns derived from the architectural structure of the new bridge. Students then submitted their own designs which were used to inspire the final banners. 

Emma commented: “Building Bridges has given students a practical opportunity to revive an area of the city with eye-catching public art displays. Students have gained experience of working strategically with Balfour Beatty, who took our designs and worked with the accessibility team and the Deaf and Blind Society to ensure they were suitable for public spaces. 

“It has been amazing to be involved in such a colourful, energetic project and it’s inspiring to see how much the students have progressed. The project has been a fantastic success and we hope to launch a similar project once the bridge is completed in two years.”

Improvement works are currently underway by Balfour Beatty, on behalf of Leeds City Council, to Regent Street Flyover which aims to deliver a safer and more robust structure.  

Daniel Barnes, Balfour Beatty Project Manager, said: “We feel extremely privileged to have worked alongside the local community to provide university students with creative workshops, helping them to gain valuable skills and experience in accessible design. The project has been a huge success and we’d like to thank all of those who took part.”

Stuart Forrester, BA (Hons) Art Enterprise student at University Centre Leeds, added: “It has been an honour to participate in building a brighter city. The experience we gained from working on a live brief with an artist and building company was invaluable. 

“Emma’s workshop enabled us to learn a new design skill by using collages to make geometric patterns. There’s a great sense of pride in seeing our designs on the banners and I’m excited to see more dynamic projects appear across the city.”