Expo Leeds

Produced in collaboration with  Sound and Music

Festival of Sonic Art and Experimental Music


September 2009

Expo Leeds’ aim was to illustrate the powerful, creative and playful nature of listening. Expo Leeds unveiled a programme of major new sound art commissions for the Leeds including work by artists of international standing; Christina Kubisch, Paul Rooney, Lee Patterson, Chris Watson, Yannick Dauby and Mira Calix. The festival included live performance, public events, workshops and a wiki-based, self-organising conference.

The festival offered visitors the chance to re-engage with the city in new, creative ways and to experience space, time and the urban setting through the art of listening.

Commissions included:

Nick Rothwell & Lewis Sykes will create PEAL: A Virtual Bell Tower, an interactive multimedia commission for the Arena space at the Grade II listed Leeds City Museum, re-opened in 2008. Taking bell sounds from Leeds churches, PEAL invited audiences to play with the traditions of change ringing.

A pioneer of the sound art genre, German-artist Christina Kubisch will produced a new installation at The Light, Leeds, inviting passers by to pick up headphones and take an ‘electrical walk’ through the shopping centre, revealing a soundscape not audible to the naked ear.

Winner of the 2008 Northern Art Prize, UK sound and video artist Paul Rooney culminated a 12 month commission with a series of performances, exploring the decommissioned Leeds Metropolitan University’s H Building, and the lost stories and disembodied voices of its inhabitants, both fictional and real.

Musician and artist Mira Calix, worked alongside artists Adrian Sinclair, Kypros Kyprianou & Glenn Boulter, with local young people to present experimental sound works at Leeds City Museum, that explored the collections and museum interior spaces.


A performance at the Howard Assembly Room will highlighted the works of Peter Cusack, Chris Watson (long-time BBC broadcaster of the natural environment), Yannick Dauby and Lee Patterson. Expo Leeds also presented a new sound work designed to interact with pedestrians in Millennium Square, through the BBC’s big screen.

Over 4 days, installations, screenings and live performance will happen in a wide array of unusual venues and public spaces. Chosen from 300 entries in response to the open call for artists’ work, Expo Leeds presented sound art presented specialist and non-specialist audiences. As part of the programme there was a workshop for practicing urban design professionals, that was run in partnership with RIBA Yorkshire and the Positive Soundscaping research programme.

Partners included: Arts Council England, Arup, BBC Big Screen, Leeds City Council, Leeds Metropolitan University, Opera North Howard Assembly Room, Leeds College of Music, Yorkshire Yorkshire, nti, Lumen, Education Leeds ArtForms, Find Your Talent, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council & Positive Soundscape, The Light, University of Leeds