Hands of Freedom

Be part of a city wide public art project celebrating 100 years of University of Leicester

Artist Vishal Joshi is working with partners across the city to create a series of sculptures and art installations around Leicester and he needs you to take part and join in!

The project, named Hands of Freedom aims to honour the unique and diverse makeup of our city by representing the identities of those who submit their drawings for inclusion. In total we are looking for 1000 individual ‘hand portraits’, which will be layered and collaged onto four, three meter hand sculptures. These hands will then be overpainted by Vishal and displayed at Leicester Cathedral from May, University of Leicester campus from June, with additional Hands of Freedom artworks presented at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in July as part of ArtReach’s Liberty Festival UK

For details on how to take part and make your mark on Leicester’s history, watch the video below:

Find out about the project

Download the Hands of Freedom art pack HERE for inspiration and templates!


Send in scans or photographs of your submission to:

  • arts-centre@le.ac.uk with the subject line Hands of Freedom
  • Share them online using #handsoffreedom

Alternatively, send your piece by post, or drop it off in person to:

  • FOA Vishal Joshi
  • Attenborough Arts Centre,
  • Lancaster Road, Leicester, LE1 7HA


Vishal will be running two ‘Hands of Freedom’ drawing workshops in April. The artist will talk through his inspiration for the project, how it is being used to mark University of Leicester centenary, and he will teach the process for drawing his recognisable style of reaching hands. Participants will be challenged to develop their own ‘freedom’ hand gestures and send copies of their drawings to the artist to inspire and be used in the final Hands of Freedom artworks and installations. 

How do I book for the workshops?

The first of the two session is available to book now. This workshop will include a 30 minute lecture by Professor David Ekserdjian, offering a facinating exploration of hands, their use and symbolism throughout the history of art. This session takes place April 14th 3pm-5pm and can be booked here

The second of the two sessions will take place May 5th 6pm-7pm and can be booked here

Meet Vishal

Artist Vishal Joshi Working
At age 14, during his GCSE years, Vishal was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the time  he spent in hospital was made easier when Vishal had his sketch book and pencil at hand. Drawing became his ‘escape’ and my ‘peace around the madness’. Somehow, being attached to a drip didn’t seem so bad when he created another piece of art. He remember the feeling when I impressed my consultant and the nurses with my work; The praise and recognition that he received was not only fulfilling but also gave me feeling of success. His confidence in drawing increased as he practiced more.

Vishals passion for the hands of freedom is because “Hands of Freedom celebrates difference, inclusion, and unity. It recognises the extraordinary power of community, and champions individual liberty. It shows how we are diverse in our make-up, but untied in our ambitions as citizens of change.”

Find out more about Vishal Joshi his work at www.vishaljoshi.co.uk

Hands of Freedom is part of University of Leicester’s Engage 100 programme, and ArtReach’s Liberty UK (www.libertyukfestival.com). 


University of Leicester Logo
UoL Centenary Badge
Attenborough Arts Centre Logo
Art Reach Logo
Leicester Cathedral logo
No fixed abode logo
accessible art for all logo