Add Fuel mural inspired by Leeds’ ceramics heritage to be unveiled in the city

20th March 2023

East Street Arts is set to unveil a new 10m x 9m mural by Portuguese visual artist Add Fuel on Monday 27 March 2023 . The artwork – painted on the two-storey gable-end of a former pub in Mabgate, Leeds – celebrates the area’s important ceramics heritage and features as part of the city’s Year of Culture 2023.

Taking inspiration from the city’s renowned Burmantofts pottery, the mural ‘ECHOES’ includes redesigned patterns from tiles that can be seen at some of Leeds’ most esteemed institutions – including Leeds Central Library, Leeds Town Hall, University of Leeds, and Leeds Grand Theatre. By combining traditional decorative elements with contemporary designs, Add Fuel, on closer inspection, reveals a detailed world of unique images and characters – brimming with unequivocally original motifs and characters with deep emotions.

‘ECHOES’ – commissioned as part of LEEDS 2023, the city’s Year of Culture – is the latest in East Street Arts’ award-winning ‘A City Less Grey’ series which brings new and unique artwork to the streets and neighbourhoods of Leeds. Add Fuel’s artwork sits alongside pieces across the city including: the epic ‘Athena Rising’ mural on the Platform building near Leeds Train Station by NOMAD Clan; Ian Kirkpatrick’s ‘Hare of Harehills’ outside The Compton Centre; and ‘Common Ground’ by Mel Holmes at the old ABC cinema site on Vicar Lane.

Leeds City Council has provided funding and support to aid the regeneration of Mabgate, helping to create a sense of identity and provide an improved visitor experience to the area.

Add Fuel said “The rich Burmantofts history and catalogue present in the city was the starting point and main inspiration for this public art piece. I work through research, reevaluation, redesign and recreation, so for me it was a pleasure to work and rework the rich immense cultural patrimony. My intent is the creation of something truly unique but also truly familiar to the community. An echo of the past living vividly in the present.”

Shazia Bibi, Programme Producer at East Street Arts, said: “Add Fuel’s approach to working with sites, communities and heritage presents a unique opportunity to bring together Mabgate’s rich tapestry of histories and cultures through public art that transforms a major site in our neighbourhood. Add Fuel is known for creating symmetrical art which plays with the visuals of interpretation, it makes the viewer think more about what is on view due to layered patterns. This piece has been inspired by different tiles from Leeds as well as an infused redesign of Persian tiles, giving it a blend of illusions from East and West.”

Emma Beverley, Director of Programmes at LEEDS 2023, said: “It is incredibly exciting to have an artist like Add Fuel come to Leeds for the first of a series of new public artworks as part of LEEDS 2023. Inviting international artists to learn about and connect with the people of Leeds is exactly what the Year of Culture is about – it turns out Portugal and Burmantofts have much in common! The opportunity to support East Street Arts to build on their award-winning work with A City Less Grey is why working in partnership is so integral – their work will be here for everyone to enjoy during 2023 and beyond.”


About Add Fuel
Add Fuel is Portuguese visual artist Diogo Machado (b. 1980). With a degree in graphic design from Lisbon’s IADE – Creative University, he spent a few years working in design studios in Portugal, followed by an eight-month stint in Munich, Germany. Since 2007, he has been focusing exclusively on his artistic work. Starting out under the full name Add Fuel to the Fire, he first created a dark yet exuberant visual universe populated by a cast of slimy, eccentric and joyful creatures, influenced by a variety of interests ranging from video games to comics, animation, sci-fi, designer toys, and urban visual culture. In 2008, fascinated with the aesthetic possibilities of symmetrical patterning and tessellations, he shortened his moniker to Add Fuel and began redirecting his focus towards working with and reinterpreting the language of traditional tile design, and that of the Portuguese tin-glazed ceramic azulejo in particular. Effortlessly blending these two seemingly irreconcilable visual idioms, his current practice seeks to combine traditional decorative elements with contemporary visual referents into new forms that reveal an impressive complexity and a masterful attention to detail. Besides the numerous public art interventions he has been creating in various countries, he has also been showcasing his work in solo and group exhibitions in reputed galleries and museums.

About LEEDS 2023
LEEDS 2023‘s ambition is to deliver a transformational year of creative experiences connecting and benefiting people now and into the future. The planned programme will celebrate and transform the city’s identity locally, nationally and internationally – creating a lasting legacy of economic and social impact. LEEDS 2023 is run by the Leeds Culture Trust, an independent charity set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy and as a response to the cancellation of the UK’s participation in the European Capital of Culture competition. Leeds City Council recognises in a number of its key strategies the difference culture and creativity can make to a city and its citizens and is the principal funder of LEEDS 2023. LEEDS 2023 is supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.

About East Street Arts
East Street Arts secures better livelihoods for artists and our neighbours, while addressing the issue of economic and commercial decline in our towns and cities. The organisation forces positive interventions through art. As leaders in the artist-led sector for almost 30 years East Street Arts has empowered artists to be self-determined, take control, incite change and influence key decision-makers to improve lives and environments, locally, nationally and internationally.