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Leeds takes centre stage at London Design Biennale 2018

Leeds has been chosen as one of only three UK cities to take part in the second London Design Biennale. The city is exhibiting an installation curated by the internationally renowned Yorkshire fashion designer, Matty Bovan. 

matty bovan with art


The global event, which is open to the public from 4 to 23 September, brings together the world’s most exciting and ambitious designers, innovators and curators at Somerset House to exhibit engaging and interactive design installations. This year, for the first time, cities have been invited to create fully designed rooms at the London Design Biennale, with Leeds, Liverpool and Dundee all exhibiting in rooms alongside countries and nations from across the globe.

Sponsored by Leeds 2023 and Leeds Beckett University, the Leeds room has been curated by Matty who brought artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach on board for his response to the Biennale’s theme ‘Emotional States.’ Titled, Just, Unjust’, the work  is inspired by an Elizabethan wood carving depicting the “Dance of Death” which sits in The Red Drawing Room at Burton Agnes Hall in Yorkshire. It features high-fashion bespoke garments – designed especially by Matty for this project – as well as exciting live performances and video projections. Leeds Beckett PhD student and artist Zara Worth has supported the design team’s work.

Matty Bovan's artwrork

Dr Lisa Stansbie, Dean of the School of Art, Architecture & Design at Leeds Beckett University, where Matty is a guest lecturer, said: “We are excited to be a part of the London Design Biennale and even more thrilled to be collaborating with Matty Bovan on the project. Matty’s innovative, cutting edge approach is an inspiration for all of the fashion designers of the future at Leeds Beckett University and he’s a fantastic role model for them, especially our PhD student Zara Worth who has been an important part of Matty’s team. Leeds is a fantastic city for fashion, art and design and the university has a key role to play in the creative scene in the city; we’re keen to see as many talented designers and artists stay in the region as possible.”

Matty said: “Myself, Rory Mullen and Adam Leech are pushing fear, love, passion and anger. Scarecrows will loom out of the darkness surrounded by projections, merging the audience and the work, meshed together in a world. A whole sensory vision.”

Sir John Sorrell, president of the London Design Biennale, a renowned advocate and campaigner for creative education and for the creative industries, said: “With Leeds 2023 previously bidding for European Capital of Culture, and with creative talent such as Matty Bovan living and working in Yorkshire, it seemed obvious that we should invite the region’s capital city to showcase at the event.”

Leeds 2023 is an international cultural festival which will harness the energy, creativity and momentum of the European Capital of Culture bid to celebrate the culture of Leeds and bring the best of global arts to the city. 

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