Striking new public art for Nexus


The University has commissioned the British-American artist, Liliane Lijn, to create a new work of public art for its campus.

Lijn has an international reputation developed over more than 50 years for exploring the relationship between art, science, technology and language.

Her work is represented in both private and public collections around the world. She has produced numerous major public commissions for hospitals, universities, local authorities and commercial companies.


Lijn's Converse Column, a nine-meter high revolving column of transforming words, will be sited adjacent to Nexus, the University’s new centre, designed to inspire collaboration and innovation with real world impact.

Lijn said: “I am inspired by the concept of Nexus. So much of my work is about just that: connections, relation, conjunction, invention and research. I want to create a work that asks questions and encourages discussion. Converse Column will represent communication as a creative symbol of the University of Leeds and Nexus.” 

The artwork will be unveiled in autumn 2018, when the building is due to open.

Converse Column

Converse Column references Lijn’s iconic early 1960’s Poem Machines and, more recently, her Poemdrums that spin and disengage words from the composed text.

Lijn added: “Syntax is all about the position of words and their relation to each other. However, by considering the words divorced from their syntactical connections, unexpected meanings can be revealed. 

“Due to the design of the column, the text inscribed on it is not easily read in the normal linear left to right manner. Instead, words appear to float in and out of consciousness.”

Words of art 

Lijn is calling on staff and students to contribute ideas and to help create text for the artwork.

Transformations in science and technology happen on university campuses because of the connections between ideas and people.

Liliane Lijn

Lijn continued: “I hope this artwork may give us the opportunity to celebrate this amazing process. I look forward to lots of text contributions.” Find out how you can contribute to Converse Column.

Public art trail

The University campus is home to an impressive range of public artwork, with a public art trail guiding visitors, staff and students around the collection. 

It includes sculptures such as the re-instated Hubert Dalwood relief, Simon Fujiwara’s A Spire, and Dual Form by the British sculptor, Barbara Hepworth, on loan from Leeds Art Gallery.

Follow the Cultural Institute on Twitter @UniLeedsCulture

Further information

Liliane Lijn was born in New York in 1939 and has lived in London since the late 1960’s. 

She works across media – kinetic sculpture, film, text and performance – to explore language, mythology and the relationship between light and matter. 

For more information on Lijn’s work: