Pedal to the metal – Basement’s gotta’nother new exhibition

BasementArtsProject is finally a full-time concern. Recently I managed to find myself some funding that allowed me to give up my full-time job and turn my attention to two things that matter most to me. In no particular order of hierarchy; Art and Community.

The work of Michael E. Smith at the Henry Moore Institute
The work of Michael E. Smith at the Henry Moore Institute (March-June 2023)

Having graduated from BA Art & Design at Leeds Metropolitan College (now Leeds Beckett), I have worked for the Henry Moore Institute for nearly nineteen years. It was an enjoyable experience in which I discovered a whole load of art, old and new, that I had never heard of before, as well as learning a lot of stuff about Moore that I had not previously known either. But, there comes a time where the need to move forward personally takes over.

The Junction of Dewsbury & Tunstall Road

As a person from a working class background who has remained in a working class income bracket all of my life, despite a degree, there is nothing more terrifying than giving up a guaranteed monthly wage to chase what could be a mirage; that shimmering oasis at the horizon that seems tantalisingly close but remains obstinately out of reach.

But, that is what I have done. Wisely or unwisely I have taken that plunge with one year’s worth of funding to keep me going. In this time I have to create a system that will not only support me, but allow me to find ways of providing money for artists and projects within the area going forward. As the book title says ‘Feel the fear, do it anyway’

View from The Basement

So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” The Proud Highway. Hunter S. Thompson

And what is the reason for this deviation from the norm. This exploration of uncertain and previously uncharted terrain leading to a destination unknown!

The answer is two-fold. One is Art and Artists, the other is Community. All Capitalised because all are equally important.

Without Art we deny ourselves the possibility of a meaningful future in which we can enjoy things that have no purpose other than to be appreciated or used as a springboard for thought or aspiration. Without it, the future holds nothing but confrontation.

The Williamson Art Gallery & Museum (Wirral) – the organisation from my childhood, responsible for my love of art in adult life

Without Community at the heart of the decisions we take as artists, we run the risk of ruining the future we envision before we have even started. Community, Society, Species, Environment, World are in a precarious place right now, and to not acknowledge the influence that these things have on each other would be to jump the gun. It would be to try and leap the chasm that is all of societies’ issues and problems without thought for those without autonomy. Art needs to create autonomy in the present if it is to survive and be a driving force in the future.

Slit Collective Opening Night (September 2022)

BasementArtsProject, for as much as it is about presenting all manner of art, from all manner of backgrounds to deliver meaningful ideas and work, it is also about working class access to the arts.

Unravel: the longest hand painted film in Great Britain (May 2011)


I was recently looking back over visitor figures for all of our exhibitions since April 2011 and discovered that these added up to nearly five thousand people at Basement alone, not counting exhibitions in other cities and countries. In twelve years our tiny little mid-terrace house, lived in by my family and I, has seen such a large number of people, roughly forty percent of whom are from the local, South Leeds, area. Yet the other sixty percent of our five thousand has not only been people from Leeds, or even other UK cities but has also included people from the USA, France, Albania, Romania, Sweden, Italy and other parts of the world.

Jacob’s Ladder by Keith Ackerman. The sculpture at the heart of ‘The Corner’ Pocket Sculpture Park

Last year, we brought to fruition our long standing project ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ by Keith Ackerman. In the process we have created a small oasis of calm in this busy corner of South Leeds with what have dubbed ‘The Corner’ Pocket Sculpture Park. This space belongs to the community so please feel free to use it. Without the negotiating skills of Cllr Paul Wray we could not have achieved this. He is now assisting us with the next project for this corner; a mural that will adorn the gable end of two houses that overlook Tunstall Road, about 50 yards down the road from Jacob’s Ladder.

Site for Fine Art / Mural Artwork

We have also had assistance from Cllr Ed Carlisle who helped organise a planting session on ‘The Corner’ in March. We now have half a dozen fruit bushes growing on the land. We are going to create a bit of meadow around that part of the land to encourage biodiversity.

We are currently working on the relevant permissions to achieve our mural with artist Chloe Harris, whose print work remains on display during the following hours

Wednesday 17th May | 12 – 8pm
Thursday 18th May | 10:00 – 2:00
Sunday 21st May | By Appointment

Chloe Harris: Route Motif exhibition (April – May 2023)

This will be followed in June by Manchester based artist Jeffrey Knopf

Looking ahead to the future: On Thursday 28th September we will also be staging a gig on ‘The Corner’ by Australian musician Claire Angel Bonner, a specialist in nineteenth century Classical guitar music currently living in Italy. As part of her tour of Switzerland, UK, Faroe Islands and Australia she will be stopping off in Leeds to perform a FREE concert by Jacob’s Ladder at 1:30pm and then a ticketed (£10) concert later in the evening at BasementArtsProject.

Claire Angel Bonner
Photo: Danja Rrasa


I am conducting a little survey at the moment to try and find out a little bit about peoples views on Art. It takes about 2mins to fill in and can be found at

If you have two minutes to spare I would appreciate your views

I hope that we will see you at a BasementArtsProject event at some point in the near future. Until then enjoy the public sculpture garden, it is yours to use whenever you want, go chill out in the sun, read a book, let the kids play . . .

4 Replies to “Pedal to the metal – Basement’s gotta’nother new exhibition”

  1. Love the “with a degree” comment on society – fab

    Nearly 5000 visitors to BASEMENT ARTS IS FAB

    Thankyou for the contingent and determined work you do for artists

  2. Wishing you every success in the future for all the new projects planned, hope to see a photo of the completed house mural on this website once it’s completed

  3. Lived here a long time and have long wanted something decent on that gable end. I’ve always wanted this guy to come and make a fantastic people-based mural there! —

    Something like that would be an ace welcoming mural for people driving in from the motorway, as well as us locals. Something with hope and stunning talent on show.

    REQUESTS: please – no more footballers and LUFC related murals: enough already! There’s more to life than football and not every Leeds citizen gives a monkeys about the sport. No pretentious depressing imagery either. Something uplifting please.

    1. Don’t worry Sam, there will be no LUFC related content in this mural.
      It is my belief that this corner could be a great place for art for people entering Leeds from Wakefield and The South.
      We have already realised a stone sculpture about 30 yards up the road from this gable end. The response from the community to this has been phenomenal.
      All seems to be coming together in regards to the mural.
      We have a super 23year old artist called Chloe who is going to be working on the design. Her style is a really busy, vibrant and intense semi-abstract cityscapes. We will be looking at content relating to the architecture and skyline of the city. Definitely nothing pretentious or depressing!

Comments are closed.