Finding Eva Leigh

11 May - 29 September 2024
Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 - 17:00
Free to all

A Harrogate Artist Rediscovered

Exquisite portraits by a little-known Harrogate artist capture faces from the 1920s and ‘30s.

A group of drawings by Eva Leigh (1895 – 1981) came to light when the gallery's volunteer team inventoried the Harrogate Art Collection. They were entranced by the delicate studies, many of which had never been exhibited. With very little record of the artist, work began to piece together her biography. The story emerged of a talented, yet now largely forgotten artist whose work reflects a particular moment in time.

Born in Bradford in 1895, Eva Walker showed early artistic talent, attending art school in her teens before moving to Harrogate. Adopting the name Eva Leigh - her paternal grandmother’s maiden name, she established herself as a portrait artist and undertook commissions from a wide variety of patrons, many of them visitors to Harrogate spa. Amongst others, her sitters included  H.R.H. Princess Victoria, actor Jimmy Forbes, Caroline Ingilby from Ripley Castle, Sir John Barbirolli and the entire Hallé Orchestra.

Many of these fascinating portraits remain tantalisingly anonymous. There are still many aspects of Eva Leigh’s life and career to discover, it’s hoped that visitors to the exhibition may be able to add more pieces to the jigsaw. Her work certainly deserves wider attention, and her life story is an interesting touchstone to a particular time in Harrogate’s spa history.

This research and the accompanying exhibition have been made possible thanks to generous support from the Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery.  Dr Fiona Young’s painstaking research has brought the life and work of this talented artist back into the public eye.

This listing is supplied by one of our museum partners and is not moderated by Art Fund.

Get a National Art Pass and explore Mercer Art Gallery

You'll see more art and your membership will help museums across the UK

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

Visitor information


Mercer Art Gallery

Swan Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2SA
01423 556188

Free to all

Opening times

Tuesday - Sunday

Plus Bank Holiday Mondays

9.30am - 5pm

Visitor information

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

The more you see, the more we do.

The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.

Are your sure you want to leave checkout?