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Leeds 2023 Balllot Submissions Turned Into Public Exhibition at the Merrion Centre

Hundreds of ballot entries submitted to secure tickets to the opening event of LEEDS 2023, ‘The Awakening’, have been carefully selected from the thousands originally sent in to be the focus of a new exhibition that will be shown in Wade House, the former office building at the Merrion Centre, from Wednesday 5 – Saturday 8 April.

Leeds’ Creative Side On Show

Free and family friendly, the ‘Waking the Artist Exhibition, has been curated by Sammy Gooch and Camille Hewitt for LEEDS 2023 to show off a selection of the diverse collection of artworks created by Leeds locals. This is the latest activation using the public’s art submissions which can already be found on beer mats, coffee cups, postcards and poster drums across the city.

The exhibition will see around 150 of the weird and wonderful submissions from Leeds residents, reimagined into surprising installations. It will take place on the tenth and eleventh floors of Wade House which is accessed from the upper balcony level inside the Merrion Centre.

The unique location will offer 360 degree views of the Leeds skyline and a pop-up bottle bar will be open during the show to encourage visitors to linger and watch the sun set.

Sammy Gooch said: “Camille and I spent a lot of time going through all the fantastic submissions and it was incredibly touching to see the effort and thought that people had put into their pieces, to be part of this celebratory year. It was also a lot of fun because plenty of the work is really playful and irreverent and we want to bring all that out in the exhibition. It was really important to us that we put the same amount of thought, care, enthusiasm and joy into how we could best present each artwork, bringing each piece to life.”

Camille Hewitt adds: “We have split the artworks into different themes to allow us to really highlight them in the best way. Visitors will be able to check out the Wall of Self – full of selfies and portraits; explore an immersive landscape of animals and magical creatures and leaf through a Book of Love, where there will be examples of poetry and drawings. We hope that those whose submissions have been included enjoy seeing their entries here and that all visitors enjoy spending some time in the exhibition, making themselves at home in this celebration of creativity from across the city.

In addition to the exhibition and until the end of April, LEEDS 2023 is encouraging people from all 33 wards of the city to get involved in the wider ‘Waking the Artist’ project and create new artworks.

There are a couple of ways to participate from individuals simply creating something and displaying it in a window to schools or community groups ordering a pack of materials to help create a more formal display.

Kully Thiarai, LEEDS 2023’s Creative Director and CEO of LEEDS 2023 said: “This Year of Culture is all about celebrating Leeds, the city and the people who call it home and through Waking the Artist we hope that we can show that you don’t have to consider yourself an ‘artist’ to be creative, to make every neighbourhood a gallery. We want to see pictures in windows as we walk around, in our community spaces and shared on social media channels, showing how creative our city really is.”

The ‘Waking the Artist Exhibition, is funded by LEEDS 2023 and Arts Council England.

Visit for more information on how to get involved in Waking the Artist.