Flood-hit arts centre puts Leeds on the map for all the right reasons

ITS first launch didn't exactly go to plan - with flood water rushing through the doors as guests arrived to celebrate Leeds' newest arts and events space on Boxing Day.

Leeds artist 'Tone' pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme

But just two months after three feet of water swamped Freedom Mills, the building has been completely renovated and its first major exhibition opened on Sunday.

The gallery and event space on Washington Street, just off Kirkstall Road, was the brainchild of Joshua Threlfall and Graham Dixon, and will provide a home for exhibitions, music events, markets and even the odd rave.

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But it was the art that took centre stage at the launch, with curator and Leeds artist Nicholas Dixon putting together an exhibition of work as diverse as street art and contemporary abstract to fine art and sculpture.

Picture by Simon Hulme

Amongst the artists displaying in Freedom Mills inaugural exhibition, which runs for a month, was Inkie, a street artist from Bristol described as “Banksy’s right hand man”, abstract painter Mikey Brain, and Leeds’ own Tone, Mel Davies and Claire Bentley-Smith.

Mr Dixon said: “There is nothing of this scale like this in Leeds at the moment, and it was always a dream of Josh’s to create it. The floods on Boxing Day knocked everything back, everything had to be ripped out and built again.”

Luckily, no art work was damaged in the floods, and Mr Dixon was charged with putting together an opening show to make a real impact.

He said: “I wanted it to be fresh. Inkie is a great friend of mine and it’s quite a big thing to have his work in Leeds. With the other artists, we have a real cross-section of work on display.”

The new gallery at Freedom Mills Picture: Simon Hulme

That includes pieces by the late French artist Gerard Dureux, whose extensive body of work, including sculpture and fine art, was only discovered after his death.

Mr Dixon added: “I am passionate about putting Leeds on the map. We have some great creative people here and we just needed the platform to showcase it - now we have that in Freedom Mills.”

The exhibition is open from 5pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and 12pm to 4pm at weekends

Curator Nicholas Dixon pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme
Curator Nicholas Dixon pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme
Curator Nicholas Dixon pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme
The Freedom Mill gallery. Picture by Simon Hulme
Picture by Simon Hulme
The new gallery at Freedom Mills Picture: Simon Hulme
Curator Nicholas Dixon pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme
Curator Nicholas Dixon pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme
Curator Nicholas Dixon pictured with his work. Picture by Simon Hulme
The Freedom Mill gallery. Picture by Simon Hulme