SOYO Leeds to launch major installation after appointing artist in residence as city centre neighbourhood enters final phase

A city centre neighbourhood has appointed an artist in residence and is marking the partnership with the launch of a major temporary art installation at the heart of the project.

SOYO Leeds, near Leeds Playhouse, appointed EV (Emma) Hardaker a Leeds-based visual artist and designer.

Over the last decade Ms Hardaker has grown a reputation for her socially-engaged practice that employs bold patterns and punchy colour palettes to stimulate conversations with communities about places across the North.

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She will be responsible for a programme of temporary projects and permanent installations, further animating the area, as the £300m regeneration by Caddick Group enters its final phase.

Artist EV Hardaker with SOYO’s Frankie Bear that she designed for the Leeds Bear Trail 2023.Artist EV Hardaker with SOYO’s Frankie Bear that she designed for the Leeds Bear Trail 2023.
Artist EV Hardaker with SOYO’s Frankie Bear that she designed for the Leeds Bear Trail 2023.

Ms Hardaker said: “I’m so excited to be working more formally with SOYO following our successful pop-up projects.

"Using found photographs and documentation of the historic Quarry Hill area, I've been inspired by the wallpapers and interior designs of the former flats to create a unique set of patterns and a new palette for the project.

"This will hopefully help bridge between the past and the future and provide a long-lasting legacy that is embedded into the furniture and fabric of SOYO. “

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Ms Hardaker’s previous public realm projects have included large-scale wall and pavement paintings and, increasingly, ambitious sculptural interventions.

These sit alongside product ranges, prints and private commissions for clients including major developers, education providers, local authorities and commercial businesses in Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, Wakefield, York and other locations across the North.

Ms Hardaker will launch The Arch - a temporary art installation at the heart of the project – next week

She said: “I wanted to create a standalone, interactive statement piece and through my research decided to reference the architectural designs of the entranceways.

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"So Arch is my is my interpretation of walking through the entrance to the original Quarry Hill flats, creating a new experience for people, whilst also reflecting this history of the area.”

Lee Savage, director at Caddick Developments and lead for the SOYO regeneration, said: “We are big fans of Emma’s bold, vibrant designs, which are becoming an important part of the area’s identity. Her work helps us celebrate, respect and immortalise the past, whilst creating a strong, modern identity for the SOYO - a space that we want everyone to enjoy.”

Recent projects by EV Hardaker include: WOW Barn as part of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, The Regent’s Street flyover between Mabgate and Quarry Hill, as well as SOYO’s Frankie Bear for the Leeds Bear Trail 2023.

The final phase of Caddick Group’s SOYO residential neighbourhood, which will build 650 student apartments, and a new hotel scheme at Kirkgate Market received planning permission from Leeds City Council in December 2023.

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Once completed, residents at Blocks A and D will have access to a 24hr gym, keyfob secure entry, study and collaboration spaces, and roof-top gardens. The final phase of the development will also see the landscaping plans completed.

SOYO began construction in 2019, bringing in a new mixed-use development to the Quarry Hill area, creating a new neighbourhood near Leeds Playhouse.

The first two buildings, Moda New York Square, opened in 2022, comprising 551 build-to-rent studios and apartments. The latest buildings, Madison East and Mercer West for Hestia, opened to residents in the New Year.