University launches campus art trail with unveiling of Simon Fujiwara sculpture


A striking new sculpture by a rising star on the international art scene has been installed at the University of Leeds.

The unveiling on Thursday 11 June of Simon Fujiwara’s A Spire, outside the University’s impressive new Laidlaw library, coincides with the launch of a new art trail to guide people around the institution’s impressive collection of public artworks.

The Curating the Campus public art trail and accompanying map heralds a summer-long series of public events aimed at highlighting the University’s artistic treasures to all members of the public, as well as students and staff.

Award-winning artist Simon Fujiwara was commissioned to create a new artwork for the Laidlaw Library, which opens formally on 7 July. It sits between two former churches in Woodhouse Lane – close to the University’s iconic Parkinson Building.

A Spire is his first public artwork. He said: "It came out of my thinking about the shift in production in Britain from heavy industry and mining, to a state of almost complete immaterial industry – entertainment, services, education. 

“Leeds exemplifies this shift – once a city of ‘100 chimneys’, much of its industrial history has been removed and a new, post-globalised urbanism flourishes. I wanted to respond to the city’s image as well as the library’s function as both a place for learning – often through new media rather than books – and make an object that would stand as a modern relic, catalysing and combining elements of the city’s past and possible future."

The summer series of free public art events, which has Place-Making as its theme, ranges from 15 minute talks about sculptures around campus with their creators or University and Gallery staff, to family-friendly Saturday afternoon events in the University’s Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and Tai Chi under the University’s Sign for Art sculpture by Keith Wilson.

Professor Ann Sumner, the University’s first Public Art Project Officer, joined the gallery team at the start of this year. She said: “We have great art on public display here at the University – including the major new commission by Simon Fujiwara.

“Our Curating the Campus public art trail and summer of events will all help encourage everyone – staff, students and visitors from the city and beyond – to enjoy the art across our unique campus.”

Free copies of the art trail are available from the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. Full details of events can be found here:

Further information

The walls of The Laidlaw Library showcase original works by students from the School of Design and the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and some of its glass panels feature designs by graphics students from the School of Design.

Simon Fujiwara was born in London in 1982 and spent his childhood in England, Japan, Spain and Africa. He gained a first class architecture degree at the University of Cambridge and studied Fine Art at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. His work has been presented in group and solo exhibitions at institutions that include Tate St.Ives, UK, MoMA, NY, Julia Stoschek Collection, Dusseldorf, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Kunstverein Braunschweig, and SFMoMA, San Francisco. Key works are housed in public collections including the Tate Collection, Hamburger Kunsthalle and Prada Foundation. In 2009 he won the Art Foundation Fellowship for Interior Architecture and in 2010 he won both the Cartier Award and the prestigious Art Basel Statements Baloise Prize.

The University of Leeds new Public Art Strategy is an ambitious programme focusing on a wide range of the University’s activities, including research, student experience, communications, fundraising, audience development and building partnerships locally, nationally and internationally.

Images of Simon Fujiwara, A Spire and visitors enjoying our campus art trail are available, together with shots of Professor Ann Sumner and some of the University of Leeds’ public art. Please contact University of Leeds press officer Gareth Dant on 0113 343 3996 or