New Briggate sculpture – Minerva, the draped woman – now open for comments

The sculpture on Briggate – artist’s impression

The new sculpture that’s planned for Briggate is up for public discussion.

A planning application for the work of public art – which will be known as “Minerva: the draped woman” – is now on Leeds City Council’s planning website and open for comments here.

The sculpture, which will stand 8 metres high outside the main entrance to the new Trinity Leeds development on Briggate,  is based on Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, poetry, medicine, commerce, weaving and crafts.

Standing on a narrow, 5-metre high column, Minerva will be made by Scottish artist Andy Scott out of small plates of galvanised steel welded together in a mosaic technique.

It will depict “a graceful draped figure, which provides an echo back to the city’s rich heritage of cloth production”, say the people who have commissioned it, Land Securities, the developers of the new 1m sq ft Trinity Leeds shopping and leisure complex.

LED lightbulbs

“The steel will not be painted, however the sculpture will contain LED lightbulbs meaning that it could be illuminated,” they say.

“The stunning sculpture’s representation of an important part of Leeds’ history will help to identify Leeds as a unique and attractive city by strengthening its identity and distinctive character,” they add.

“Leeds deserves to have a thriving culturally developing and evolving public realm and this certainly makes a positive statement along with the other artworks that combine to form the Trinity Leeds Art Programme,” says the programme’s facilitator Antonia Stowe.

Hegel said that

And here’s a connection that won’t be lost on the commissioners – Minerva used to have a wise old owl that went along with her, a sort of symbol for philosophy. Some say it’s the same owl we’ve got on the Leeds coat of arms.

“The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk,” Hegel said, meaning apparently that philosophy understands reality only after the event. It cannot prescribe how the world ought to be.

Fair point.


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5 Responses to New Briggate sculpture – Minerva, the draped woman – now open for comments

  1. Peace says:

    Looks good and nice nod to our heritage. Let’s hope we don’t have another brick man fiasco.

  2. oldredeyes says:

    How about a Yorkshire sculptor or a Yorkshire subject? Roman? Scottish? Poor show.

  3. indy149 says:

    Hmmm… I don’t have a problem an “odd” sculpture or two. Can’t say I feel the same about the “Unholy Trinity” it will be standing in front of.

  4. erosOK says:

    Interesting, from the sketches I’d never have known it was a Minerva.
    Minerva (aka Athena to the Greeks) – goddess of the city, war, weaving, breaking horses and technology – is usually recognisable by the fact that she wears a helmet and also has an aegis (a dark coloured, snake-edged goat’s skin) with a Gorgon’s head (given to her by Perseus) attached to it.

    This proposed statue is nice enough but merely a “young woman with drapery”. She reminds me more of the Personification of Industry in Leeds by John Thomas on the Town Hall (she holds a bolt of loosely wrapped cloth and appears on the extreme lefthand end of the sculpture over the main doors; see the excellent, high-quality image by (c) Graham Dann, 2012 at

    If you’re looking for Athena/Minerva in Leeds, you can also find her in the Town Hall tympanum by John Thomas (as a bust with a Corinthian helmet) and on The Leeds [Mechanics] Institute (Leeds City Museum), where she has an aegis and a Gorgon’s head and a different style of helmet (like the one worn by the gold and ivory Athena sculpted by Pheidias in the Parthenon in Athens that the Romans copied so often in marble as Minerva.

    I’m not sure there’s much point in this statue being “Minerva” if you have to read an inscription to find that out. Why not just sculpt Leeds as a cloth-making city, as John Thomas did on the Town Hall with her civic crown and distaff of unspun wool? I do like the idea of her being lit up from within though…

  5. Probablyjustparanoid says:

    A so – called triple goddess of spring outside of a shopping centre called the trinity which opened on march 21st – the first day of spring.
    A little on the nose don’t you think?!?

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