Impressions Gallery

Impressions Gallery
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Impressions Gallery opened in 1972 as one of the first specialist contemporary photography galleries in Europe. Since then we have established ourselves as a leading international exhibition space for photography and digital art. We support and promote innovative and creative work that extends the boundaries of current photographic practice. Digital imagery, film and video are essential resources for the contemporary artist, and this is reflected in our programme. We are a small not-for-profit organisation who are dedicated towards providing the local community and our wider international audiences the very best of contemporary photography and digital media.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

opening times
Tuesday - 10am to 6pm
Wednesday - 10am to 6pm
Thursday - 10am to 6pm
Friday - 10am to 5pm
Saturday - 10pm to 5pm
Sunday - Closed
Mondays - Closed

Admission charges

Free Admission.

Additional info

Booking advised for group visits. Please call 0845 0515 882 or email

Collection details

Film and Media, Fine Art, Photography

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Specials Fans, Potternewton park, Leeds

Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism

  • 17 June — 3 September 2016 *on now

Rock Against Racism (1976 to 1981) was a groundbreaking movement formed by musicians and political activists to fight racism through music. Legendary performers photographed by Shelton include The Clash, Sham 69, Misty in Roots, Aswad, Pete Townshend of The Who, X Ray Spex, Elvis Costello, Tom Robinson, and The Specials. Shelton says, ‘I hope the exhibition shows that you can change things and you can actually take a stand, even in the most difficult of situations’.

Rock Against Racism grew out of the xenophobia of the UK in the late 1970s, when right-wing politician Enoch Powell stirred up racial hatred, fascist political party The National Front was gaining support, and racism was rife in institutions such as the police. The spark for Rock Against Racism came in response to Eric Clapton’s rant at a concert in Birmingham in 1976, when he urged his audience to ‘get the foreigners out’ and ‘keep Britain white’.

Under the slogan ‘Love Music, Hate Racism’, Rock Against Racism staged marches, festivals, and over 500 concerts throughout the UK. They brought together artists and audiences of different race, mixing musical styles and youth tribes – rudeboy and skinhead, punk and reggae, two-tone and ska.

Shelton – an activist, photographer and graphic designer – produced evocative images reflecting what he calls this ‘great mish-mash’. He captured the energy of The Clash playing ‘White Riot’, with the entire audience dancing; punk fans invading the stage at the Militant Entertainment tour; Aswad and Pete Townshend playing at the Southall Kids are Innocent gig, and Misty in Roots singing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tom Robinson.

Historic events featured in the exhibition include the 1978 march from Trafalgar Square to Hackney, where 100,000 crowded into Victoria Park for the first Rock Against Racism Carnival, and the Carnival Against the Nazis in Potternewton Park, Leeds in 1981. Shelton captured the wider picture of protest, photographing demonstrations against racism in Lewisham, London’s Brick Lane, and Northern Ireland, and documenting the social and cultural conditions that informed the politics of the movement across England and Ireland. In the five years that Rock Against Racism operated, the National Front went from a serious electoral threat to political oblivion.

As well as photographs, the exhibition features memorabilia including the Rock Against Racism fanzine Temporary Hoarding and vintage posters, all in the distinctive punk style that Shelton helped to create.

Shelton says, ‘I don’t mean to suggest the fight is over – that would be ridiculous to say when you look at the current situation in Calais – but music had changed. It had become more multi-racial and that was fantastic’.

The exhibition, curated by Mark Sealy, Autograph ABP, in collaboration with guest curator Carol Tulloch, is the first major presentation of work by Syd Shelton. This is its first showing outside London

Suitable for

  • Any age


Francis Gavan's Ghost Train, Leeds, 1988

Peter Mitchell: Planet Yorkshire

  • 16 September — 3 December 2016

Mitchell was an early pioneer of colour documentary photography and has made an immeasurable impact on contemporary photographic culture. The exhibition follows hot on the heels of Mitchell’s triumphant showing this summer at the prestigious Arles photography festival in the south of France, where his major series A New Refutation of the Viking 4 Space Mission, originally shown at Impressions Gallery in 1979, has been reconstructed in full.

Peter Mitchell has been quietly making photographs for over 40 years. He occupies an essential, yet too often peripheral, place in the early British colour documentary scene of the 1970s and 80s. This major survey will revisit work spanning Mitchell’s career, focussing on the part of the world he chose to concentrate his ever-curious photographic eye, Yorkshire.

The exhibition includes images never before shown publicly, many of which are recent photographs from Leeds, the city where Mitchell has lived and worked since 1972 and with which he has become synonymous. The exhibition also includes Mitchell’s rural landscapes, evoking nostalgia and offering a glimpse into life in the North of England.

Taken as a whole, the exhibition sheds light on the overlooked career of a pivotal photographer. With a watchful attentiveness to the world around him, Peter Mitchell has captured people and places, demolition and development over the past four decades. Planet Yorkshire will explore the breadth of Mitchell’s photographic practice to reveal an unexpected, contemporary and lightly spiritual side to his work.

Work featured in the exhibition includes:
The Derwent, a groundbreaking commission by Impressions Gallery in 1980, in which Mitchell explored the landscape and way of life along the Derwent River in Yorkshire.

In The Hydro, Harrogate Mitchell continued to demonstrate his interest in changing cityscapes by documenting the building of a then-elaborate aquatics complex constructed in the late 1990s.

Also included are a series of ‘secular prayers’ depicting shrines created by ordinary people, including the gates of Elland Road football ground following Billy Bremner’s death in 1997. Originally commissioned by the Henry Moore Institute for ArtTranspennine and shown in the setting of St Oswald’s Church, Methley, these images have not been shown publicly in almost two decades.

Anne Jackson Aged 68 commissioned by Harewood House, is a triptych presenting Anne Jackson’s tombstone in the graveyard at All Saints’ Church, flanked by two of Mitchell’s now signature scarecrows. Mitchell says of this work, ‘All photographs are the most explicit of memento mori and English country churchyards are amongst the most beautiful of places to be and take stock of our island universe.’

Annals of a Life-threatening Postcode presents Mitchell’s recent and ongoing series concerning the relationship of his home of 34 years to ‘time and the city both’. Incorporating portraiture and landscape and documenting the detritus and graffiti, inhabitants, homes and gardens of Spencer Place, Leeds, this series reveals a more contemporary side to Mitchell’s practice and brings it refreshingly into the 21st century.

Planet Yorkshire is co-curated by Kerry Harker and Anne McNeill

Suitable for

  • Any age


Impressions Gallery
Centenary Square
West Yorkshire




Learning & Audience Development Co-ordinator (Contact for Group Visits)


01274 737843

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.