Talking statues launched in Leeds

Date Posted: 16/06/2016

Groups looking for a novel new way to navigate their way around Leeds can now visit a range of ‘talking statues’ voiced by celebrities.

The Talking Statues project has been commissioned by Yorkshire Festival 2016 and means popular landmarks around the city, such as the Golden Owl at Leeds Civic Hall and the statue of inventor James Watt, have been given ‘voices’ by writers, actors and comedians from Yorkshire.

Groups will be able to use their smartphones to swipe a nearby plaque at a statue to receive a commentary from characters such as The Black Prince, voiced by Vic Reeves or Drury Dame, voiced by Gemma Whelan from Game of Thrones.

Each commentary will reveal a bit of history about the statue.

For example, the Drury Dame will help groups discover why the lamp bearer statue once caused major public outcry.

Ian McMillan, who lends his voice to the statue of a Petanque player commented, “I’m always wanting to explore new ideas of getting language performed in places you don’t expect it, and you certainly don’t expect statues to start telling you a story!

As a child I had a fantasy that statues were just dying to tell you their stories, and now I can make that dream into a reality! And where better to do it than Yorkshire!”

The statue monologues vary in theme – some approaches are dramatic, others comic and a few are simply fantasy, but all have the aim to persuade the public to view the city’s statues in a new way.

Yorkshire Festival artistic director, Matt Burman, added, “Talking Statues is a fantastic project; mixing culture, technology, a little bit of history and a lot of fun.

“We walk past these statues every day but by bringing them to life with some well-known voices, not only will locals and visitors to the city be entertained, they will also learn something about the historical figures who inspired each of these long-standing works of art.

“This is just one of many fantastic projects we have that celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our Yorkshire cities. We can’t wait for the festival to get underway.”

The Talking Statues will be available to visit until June 2017.

For more information visit

Lead image: Owls (one of the city's symbols) on railings in Leeds city centre. (Photo credit: VisitEngland/Diana Jarvis / VisitEngland).

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