Hands of Freedom - a city wide exhibition

Published: 18 June 2021

Hands of Freedom is a city-wide temporary art exhibition created by award winning artist Vishal Joshi. The project has collected over 1000 ‘hand portraits’ from communities and residents across Leicestershire, and Joshi has used these to create and inspire new artworks and installations.

Friendship and hope

Hands and hand-gestures are used across all cultures to express emotions and feelings; sometimes confusion and anger, at other times friendship and hope. For Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, Joshi has painted a series of large ‘hand portrait’ murals, each one a gesture of freedom, liberty or peace. Some are widely recognised and even have their own emoji’s - such as the ‘peace’ symbol and ‘prayer hands’. Others will take more thought and a conversation or two to unpick!

Hands of Freedom at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery
Hands of Freedom at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery

The artist has used a unique style of layered mark-making to bring playfulness and vibrancy to a blend of realism and abstraction - this really makes the work pop-off the walls! He has used powerful long strokes, and short sharp strokes to play with scale and perspective.

Can you spot the longest paint brush stroke during your visit?

See the other Hands of Freedom artworks at Leicester Cathedral and University of Leicester.

Hands of Freedom has been made possible by a number of key partnerships. It has been commissioned by Attenborough Arts Centre as part of University of Leicester's Centenary programme running across 2021, and by ArtReach as part of their Liberty UK festival and their Accessible Art for All project which will see 25 toilet spaces across Europe taken over by artists exploring liberty and freedom. It is produced by No Fixed Abode.

Liberty UK Festival

Liberty UK is a pop-up festival exploring the themes of Freedom and Democracy, produced by ArtReach.

Across July & August 2021, Liberty UK Leicester will bring you three exciting new art trails in the city centre. We have been working with members of the local community to hear their stories and explore issues such as isolation, freedom and identity. Through conversations and workshops we have crafted new stories that shape a new vision for a more inclusive and optimistic future providing us with the strength to move forward and meet challenges that lay ahead.

Liberty UK Festival is produced by ArtReach and funded by Arts Council England, Co-funded by Created Europe and Accessible Art for All.