It’s not often that a hero will stick their neck out and organise an event that the whole community can enjoy, but that’s what we got today at the first ever Kirkstall Art Trail.

Basking in moments of glorious sunshine, a bit of do-it-yourself and donning a sturdy pair of trainers was the order of the day as the Leeds Love Affair team took to the streets of Kirkstall to find church yards, gardens, residential properties, challenges, ruins and community centres we’d never seen before all hosting a range of art with everything from watercolours to weaving to woodcraft on offer.

Amy is the local organiser from the Vicarage Street area who put it all together (we met her partner Tom at St Stephen’s Community Garden) and, although we didn’t manage to catch up with her in person, we’re super thankful for her efforts and hope she’ll do this again next year. Over the two hours we took to the trail we met neighbours we didn’t even know we had, saw parts of our town we’d never seen before and took in a range of makers and artists that were new to us too.

See our tweets below to get the full story of Kirkstall Arts Trail…

We started the trail at St Stephen’s Church Hall which is on our very own street but we’d only ever been to vote. Here we found woven work by Agnis Smallwood with a chance to have a go on a loom yourself. The children from local Beecroft Primary School had also had a go at their own material masterpieces taking inspiration from seashells and the works of David Hockney. Beautiful stuff…

We sort’ve worked our way backwards on the map and went to the home of Leeds Mind, De Lacy House. Here we found some tiny drawings by Beth Smith from Inkwell Arts which were as fascinating as they were intricate.

We decided to take a trek down the hill to Hollybush Conservation Centre where they’d hung a plethora of artists’ work from their own working barn. The cafe inside was a hidden treat where you could much vegetarian cakes while taking in the vast work of Sarah Whitton which dominated the displays at this site. An added bonus was walking the gardens afterwards.

Next up was a pint at the Bridge Inn, which was packed due to its lovely beer garden anyway. Here the main bar was packed with the work of Gina Gordon, but perhaps our favourite works of the day were the lithoprints by Laura Long which showed the wildness of the Yorkshire Dales.

Back up past Kirkstall lights we stopped at 19 Tordoff Place where we were enthusiastically invited into someone’s kitchen! Emma Swailes from JEMS was happily sat displaying her range of jewellery while the owner of the home told us he’d had an awesome day chatting to people coming by and highly recommended taking part as a host.

Next up was a pop-up wool experiment area at 22 Tordoff Place where neighbours helped our editor Lola make a pompom which she hung proudly from the tree. This was another highlight of the whole trail as there was an entire grassed seating area for us to take a break and discuss what we’d seen so far. Plus a bit of participation is always a winner.

As we were close by we took a quick stop at LLA HQ so we could have a loo stop. Plus we have to include a tweet of Bridget the pug or she’ll get upset.

Up the hill and we popped into the very quiet St Stephen’s Church where there was literally art EVERYWHERE. At this point we failed to take in all the artist names and didn’t manage to tweet all the art as some of them featured naked bodies and we’re a family blog!

The next venue we’d heard about since we came to Kirkstall 18 months ago but had failed to locate. But with the help of our trusty trail map we found it nestled at the bottom of the churchyard. St Stephen’s Community Garden is open all year round and is available to anyone in the community for free. We were certainly impressed by the well-kept area, especially when the volunteers handed us some free tea and cake.

Another favourite bit here as we ventured to 24 Norman View, a mere two streets away from our HQ. The lady there told us she had done a photographic project especially for the Art Trail where she’d photographer her neighbours and their most treasured possession. We almost burst into tears when we saw the photo of her next door neighbour (a cheerful man wearing a wifebeater and smoking quietly in the front garden alongside us) had chosen a photo of his newborn child. Amazing idea.

Sadly at this point we began to realise that we’d not left enough time to cover the area at all, and by 5.10pm the trail was coming to an end. We did manage to clamber up a lady’s garden on Morris Lane (huge, beautiful garden – we felt very guilty and rude trampling through her lawn which is very British of us!) to find a gorgeous summerhouse at the top with some stunning jewellery by Bellisful – definitely a purchase for our next pay day.

All in all we had an absolutely brilliant time taking in everything our town had to offer. People were warm and so friendly to everyone that passed through and we were fascinated by the way art had been installed into people’s own homes as well as the public spaces.

We really hope that Kirkstall Art Trail will continue next year and will definitely offer up LLA HQ for an exhibition from some of our favourite Leeds makers. We wouldn’t miss it!