Local artists Andy Cahill and Clifford Stead unveiled their artwork for our February ‘Artist of the Month’ exhibition here at Leeds Church Institute on Friday 3rd February.

Staff were able to spend time with the artists as they discussed the idea behind their works that reflect LCI’s theme of ‘Friendship’ for the year.

Our Faith and Creativity Lead Bronagh asked them a few questions about their artwork and how the theme of ‘Friendship’ meanders through a lot of their work here in the city.

How did you meet and start working collaboratively?

Clive and Andy met post lockdown, after the COVID Pandemic, at Coles Gallery, which was initially in Kirkgate Market. Clive explains “We had almost like our own little artistic community. And then we moved into the Corn Exchange and it has expanded since there and we decided to collaborate.”

Stylistically how do you work together?

“Our styles, although we are very different, can complement one another. It is a good discipline for me, Andy does the colour in our joint pieces and I focus on the pen drawings. I usually have bright vibrant colours, so it was nice to see the result of our joint styles with a different finish, than if we were working in opposite ways.” shared Clive.

Andy added “And yes, I think it has developed more into a friendship than just two artists working together on project. This particular work, has been a great expression of our friendship. The Owl is a representation of Leeds, was painted by myself, and the Working Men’s Hall has been sketched alongside by Clifford, and we planned it that way. Our work sites alongside each other, in the one unified piece. The thing with artists, you tend to work in isolation, so this has been a nice opportunity tot work together on a shared vision”

Is there a story the paintings are sharing?

Each of the paintings have a church, the ‘Owl’ edition has the Leeds Trinity, Boar Lane and the ‘Sheep’ edition has Leeds Minster. Both have buildings pointing to Leeds Industrial past, with the Tower Works and Working Men’s’ Club. Friendship could be found in different ways in these buildings, bringing people together and sharing. Clive explains, “The animals in both the pieces are significant to Leeds people. The Owl is the symbol of the city and is seen on many buildings, children notice the owls on the buildings and it features in many logos and images across the city including Leeds City Council emblems. The sheep is signification because of the wool industry and commerce.” 

What has it been like to get involved with Leeds Church Institute’s Artist of the Month?

Andy reflected on his self-taught creative style, “I think there are barriers for people getting to share and show their work, this has been a good experience and I have enjoyed it.”

Clifford tells us “There are so many artists, here in the city who would like a chance to share their work in this way. It has been good to have the theme of friendship and we have enjoyed working together to create these pieces of work for LCI. We hope people who see them will enjoy them and also learn a little bit more about the history of Leeds.”

If you would like to be an artist of the month get in touch with Bronagh [email protected]