About the East Leeds Project

By Founder and Director Kerry Harker

Through the East Leeds Project I want to open up a creative conversation about what life is like in the east of the city, and how it might develop into the future, questioning ideas around community, identity, sustainability, and participation. The project focuses on the corridor of green and blue space following the Wyke Beck route between Roundhay and Rothwell, linking these as one space for artistic exploration.

The view over Fearnville Fields. Photo: Jojo Harker

When the open call came in summer 2017 to submit ideas for the Leeds2023 bid, it acted as a catalyst and provided a platform to get things up and running, giving voice to ideas I’d been developing as a long-term resident of Gipton. Collaboration is key, and I’m in conversation with potential partners including Canal Connections, Chapel FM, local ‘Friends of’ groups, Leeds City Council, LS14 Trust, Space2, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Foxglove’s ‘Leeds Lighthouse’ (John Smeaton was from Austhorpe in east Leeds).

The East Leeds Project intends to respond to deep-seated social challenges and the disconnect between communities on the fringes and the burgeoning city centre. The Wyke Beck route is a wonderful asset that could enhance the lives of residents in some of the most deprived areas of the city. There’s an opportunity for the project to make links across areas such as Gipton, Harehills, Seacroft, Cross Gates, Killingbeck and Halton Moor among others, engaging people more with the green space on their doorstep and contributing to improved health and wellbeing.

With conservation at the heart of the project, this ‘green lung’ is essential for future sustainability, both locally – in terms of breaking down the problem of a ‘two-tier city’ that the Leeds2023 bid sought to address – and in helping the wider city find creative responses to urgent challenges such as flood alleviation and pollution. If you’re interested in these issues and east Leeds, please get in touch!

More information coming soon. To stay connected as the project develops, please sign up to the mailing list mailing list here.

ELP black logo trim

East Leeds Project CIC is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company.

*The faune typeface was created by Alice Savoie in the context of a commission by the Centre National de Arts Plastiques in partnership with the Groupe Imprimerie Nationale, used here under Creative Commons license CC BY-ND 4.0.


The Pavilion

The East Leeds Pavilion

Design-Construct-Explore-Together. Repeat?

Announcing a partnership between the East Leeds Project, MassBespokeTM and the communities of east Leeds.

The potential site of the East Leeds Pavilion, close to Fearnville Leisure Centre.


It is our ambition to create a temporary ‘Pavilion’ on green space in east Leeds. Our preferred site is adjacent to Fearnville Leisure Centre in Gipton. The Pavilion will be a shared space, managed locally, where people come together for conversation, creativity and exchange. The process will be entered into collaboratively by local people alongside artists, architects, students and professionals from a range of disciplines, coming together to form an intergenerational project team. The project aims to reconnect with histories of innovation in sustainable social housing central to the founding vision for the Gipton estate in the 1930s, as we approach its centenary.


The Pavilion will utilise the MassBespokeTM system developed in Leeds by Bauman Lyons architects. This pioneering technology democratises the construction process by enabling a community-led approach responding to local need. MassBespokeTM employs a computer-controlled (CNC) cutting machine set up on site in a ‘Flying Factory’ to fabricate components from digital design files sent from anywhere in the world. From these, agile, high-performance timber cassettes are fabricated and rapidly assembled onsite by a local workforce comprising skilled and semi-skilled workers. Training is built into the project programme at every stage, and outputs will include enhanced digital literacy and skills development for those seeking employment. The project facilitates exchange between workers, residents and professionals sharing their respective skills, specialisms and enthusiasms with each other. MassBespokeTM is designed to achieve high standards of environmental performance, optimise use of materials, eliminate waste, and remove the need for heavy transport and lifting equipment at all stages of construction.


The Pavilion will provide a maker space for activity led by stakeholders. As a creative hub it will enable responsiveness to key dates in the cultural calendar such as Light Night and the Gipton Gala, and provide a base for exploring the Wyke Beck Valley on foot and by bicycle. Although imagined as a temporary structure, the Pavilion will be robust and could remain in situ for a number of years. Over time, a ribbon of pavilions could be constructed throughout east Leeds, growing cultural infrastructure where little currently exists and specifically addressing the complete absence of creative workspaces in the east of the city. Structures constructed through the MassBespokeTM system are potentially mobile, and once disassembled the land can be returned to its original state.


Once established, the Factory could enable many communities to build homes and other facilities. It could generate a new social enterprise of community makers supplying garden sheds, workshops, garages, house extensions and so on through a local supply chain adding social value to place making. The Pavilion will form an R&D phase as we test the technology, build community trust and enhance our understanding of local infrastructure needs, and gather our workforce and creative team. We are actively seeking potential partners and collaborators for the project including local residents, businesses and organisations, citywide training and service providers, and creative makers of all kinds, particularly those based in east Leeds.

If you’d like to get involved, please contact us for more information.

Photography credit: Andy Irving


East Leeds Project | Our Team



Kerry-400dpiKerry Harker

Founder and Director

Kerry founded the East Leeds Project in 2017 in response to conversations about culture beyond the city centre during Leeds’ bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

Kerry has worked within the visual arts in Leeds and the wider region for the last 23 years since graduating from a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree and MA in Feminism and the Visual Arts at the University of Leeds in the mid-1990s. As an artist she exhibited widely across the UK, including in New Contemporaries 1994-5, until turning her attention to curating and forms of self-organisation.

Kerry is currently a PhD candidate in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, where her research focuses on questions of place, value and the institution in relation to artist-led initiatives across the UK. In 2006 she co-founded Project Space Leeds (with Pippa Hale and Diane Howse), which led to the opening of The Tetley in 2013, where she was Co-founder and inaugural Artistic Director until September 2015. Kerry has lived in Gipton in east Leeds for 20 years.


Claire-400dpiClaire Irving

Communities Director

Claire travelled around Britain and Europe for 20 years as a performer, director and designer within the performance art scene, before settling in Leeds.

Claire now lives in the People’s Republic of Harehills, where she was Director of Shine from 2008-10. She has also been influential within the city’s visual arts scene, as co-founder, in 1999, and inaugural Chair of Leeds Visual Arts Forum, and as a Board member of East Street Arts from 1997-2009, including as Chair from 1999-2009.

Claire is passionate about working with communities, and has worked with various groups, through theatre, visual art, food or music, for over 25 years. Throughout this time she has encountered a plethora of talents, nuances, passions and wonderful shared stories which have allowed her to co-create community situations that are by the people, for the people, with the people. Along the journey one thing always stands out for Claire: conversation. She believes it is the key to unlocking community. That, and a good cup of tea.


Paul-400dpiPaul Harker

Communications Director

Paul is a creative marketing professional with over 25 year’s experience, and a professional screenwriter. He was behind the original branding and marketing for The Tetley centre for contemporary art and learning on its opening in November 2013.

Paul has worked for a range of corporate and cultural clients and was formerly the Creative Director for McCann Erickson Leeds.

Paul is also active locally as a member of Crossgates Cricket Club and acts as their Communications and Social Events Secretary, as they prepare to launch their new pavilion in their 120th year. On the playing side, Paul is also the 2nd XI vice captain and is still tweaking his leg-breaks to the bemusement of all.



Katie-400dpiKatie Raw

Placement 2018-19

Katie is currently in her final year at the University of Leeds studying Human Geography, after spending last year studying at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Katie is thrilled by the opportunity to help in the development of the East Leeds Project, through a Workplace Cooperative Project Module as part of her undergraduate degree, and is excited about meeting new communities in the city.

Academically, Katie’s interests centre around cultural and social geography, and she enjoys learning about the socio-cultural elements of interactions and space. She is also a creative practitioner and has been heavily involved in dance throughout her life.


Voluntary Advisory Group


Kelly Culver

Kelly Culver is an artist living in East Leeds and studio/committee member of artist-led space Serf. She has been involved with numerous art projects working within the Leeds community and in various galleries across the UK.



Aidan Moesby

As an artist, curator and writer, Aidan Moesby’s work is at the intersection of the visual arts, wellbeing and increasingly, technology. He uses the locations he occupies as a ‘Live Laboratory’ to research, develop, test and make work. Site or context-specific interventions serve as a catalyst for a socially-engaged conversation and personal or communal exploration.



Zoë Sawyer

Zoë is a curator and creative practitioner based between Leeds and Birmingham, where she currently works as Offsite Curator for Eastside Projects, developing public realm programmes and projects such as Susan Philipsz’ Station Clock. She previously worked at Project Space Leeds and The Tetley from 2007-17, and in recent years has worked on commissions and solo exhibitions with artists including Joseph Buckley, Jessie Flood-Paddock, Dora Garcia, Lubaina Himid, Simeon Barclay and Rehana Zaman, alongside a number of large-scale group and solo exhibitions and events. Independently, she initiated theartmarket + Kunstfreund Gallery in Leeds from 2006-12, and from 2011 has been a Co-founder and Director of practitioner-led collective Mexico.

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Judith Tucker

Judith is an artist and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Design at the University of Leeds. Her work explores the meeting of social history, personal memory and geography; it investigates their relationship through drawing, painting and writing. She has a long-term collaboration with the radical landscape poet Harriet Tarlo, and has exhibited widely. She co-convenes the networks Land2 and Mapping Spectral Traces and is represented by Contemporary British Painting.





Invitation to the Gipton Conversation Dinner

Download the Conversation Dinner Oct 2018 Flyer We’re excited to be working with partners in Gipton (Space2, The Old Gipton Fire Station, Gipsil, Gipton Together, Church of the Epiphany, Leeds City Council’s Communities Team ENE, and local residents) to stage the very first Gipton Conversation Dinner this November. Following a successful precedent in neighbouring Harehills last …


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