Visit to the Lord Mayor

The visit to the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at the Civic Hall on February 22nd was a truly illuminating event. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite entertained us in the HMS Ark Royal room with tea and scones. Previously known as the Lord Mayor’s Blue Room, it was renamed as a testament to the significant relationship established in 1942 between HMS Ark Royal and the City of Leeds when Leeds raised £11,000,000 to restore the torpedoed ship. When decommissioned, Leeds was presented with momentos, including the ship’s bell, a scale model and various prints.

Leeds Art Fund visit to the Civic Hall hosted by Lord Mayor Al Garthwaite

Al Garthwaite explained her role as Lord Mayor, the term of office lasting a year from her election in May 2023 to May 2024. The choice of Mayor is by rotation, each group or party having their turn. The principal Consort to the Lord Mayor is her long term friend, Angela Gabriel, BEM who recently retired as a serving Councillor. She joined us for the tea as Lord Mayor’s Consort. Whereas the Lord Mayor is a paid position, a Consort is a voluntary position. To encourage diversity and promote an ongoing partnership with Leeds Beckett University, students were interviewed and eight selected as Consorts to accompany the Lord Mayor on a rotation basis to events and activities when Angela is unable to attend. Both Lord Mayor and Consort wore their chains of office, each designed and made by Leeds goldsmiths. The designs incorporate the hanging fleece, a symbol of the woollen trade and the owls of Leeds, originating from the Saville family crest; Sir John Saville being the first Alderman of Leeds in 1626.

The Lord Mayor’s charity during her term of office is ‘Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service’ which continues Al Garthwaite’s life work in supporting women in need or at risk from a number of complex reasons. Garthwaite was responsible for setting up a film production and training company, Vera Media. The film ‘Never Give Up’ is currently showing in Leeds Museum and at the Tate Gallery, London. One of the Lord Mayor’s most important roles is to act as Chair (similar to the Speaker) in the six full council meetings held during the year. A full council consists of ninety-nine councillors. An important role she worked closely on as a Councillor and continues as Lord Mayor is the twinning of Leeds with the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, visiting Prague late last year to sign the ‘Oath of Friendship’ with the Mayor of Kharkiv, the first step to twinning. Other twin towns include, Brno, Dortmund, Lille, Durban, Louisville, Hangzhou and Siegen. On the main first floor corridor or entrance hall, display cabinets exhibit gifts from cities twinned with Leeds.

The stunning 90 feet entrance hall has domed ceilings designed by George Kruger Gray, who also designed the stained glass windows. The bust of George V at the top of the staircase is by William Reid Dick. The Leeds Parish church silver is also displayed and an important collection of Vinaigrettes donated to Leeds by Arthur H Jellings. The silver gilt Great Mace of Leeds is also on display, made in 1694 by a local goldsmith Arthur Mangey whose workshop was on Briggate.

The Civic Hall, a grade II listed building was the work of the architect, E. Vincent Harris. The tour included a visit to the Council Chamber, far simpler than the entrance hall, the Walnut panelled room is elliptical in shape, with two public galleries. The banqueting hall has carved swags and crests over the doors and panels listing the ‘Freemen of the City.’ The windows of the banqueting hall look out onto Millennium Square giving a bird’s eye view of the golden owls and interestingly the stone ‘Putto with Turkey’ and ‘Putto with Goat’ by Joseph Hermon Cawthra, on the corners at first floor level of the building. The bronze statuette versions are in the Art Gallery collection given by Vincent Harris through Leeds Civic Hall. The tour rounded off with a quick visit to the Lady Mayoress’s parlour. At tea, Corrinne Miller explained to Al and Angela about the work of LAF, their commitment to the purchase of works of art to enhance the expand the City’s collection and the support of artistic endeavours within Leeds. The LAF is grateful to both Lord Mayor and her Consort for their interest in the LAF and their hospitality allowing us to have a very enjoyable and interesting afternoon.

Event report by Jane Mitchell

Upcoming events from Leeds Art Fund

Tuscan Summer, Maurice de Sausmarez 1955 © Courtesy of Jane de Sausmarez. Purchased with funding from the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund and the Friends of University Art and Music (Leeds), 2018. Image credit: University of Leeds


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