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Mark Kennedy’s Leeds Legends Inspired by Laticrete

Manchester-based artist Mark Kennedy crafted the intricate place out of broken glass, Johnson Tiles and Spectralock Pro Premium Grout from Laticrete UK, a brand of Palace Chemicals. 

It will be a feature of the new El Gato Negro tapas restaurant, which has opened in Leeds following the success of its critically-acclaimed sister venues in Manchester and Liverpool. Kennedy, who has been supported by Laticrete UK for over 10 years, said the brand’s products are “world leaders” and are the best for helping him to create amazing designs. The 6ft by 4ft montage features the city’s homegrown talent including the Back to Based club nights, Leeds United midfielder Billy Bremner, the Yorkshire Rose emblem, the motif of the indie band The Wedding Present, City Varieties Music Hall, The Yorkshire Ride bus, the Yorkshire TV logo, Rowntrees sweets symbol, Lee Francis’ Spice Girls Mel B Bo’ Selecta character, the Leeds own motif, Tetley’s beer and kids’ favourite Sooty.

Kennedy who teamed up with his partner and collaborator Mary Goodwin (a Yorkshire las) on the piece who has been working with the El Gato Negro brand for 15 years. Chef patron and creative director Simon Shaw brought his acclaimed tapas restaurant to Manchester in February 2016. Relocating from a former pub in Ripponden near Halifax, to an elegant converted townhouse on Kind Street in the heart of the city centre was a bold move, but one which helped cement his reputation and establish El Gato Negro as one of the North West’s most successful restaurants. 

A sister restaurant, Canto in Ancoats – an area just north east of Manchester city centre and home to Kennedy – was rated 13th coolest place in the world by Time Out magazine last year. It was followed by a second El Gato Negro in Liverpool in August, with the Leeds eatery, launching on 1st November. Kennedy’s work, using vintage glass and Spectralock Pro Premium, can be seen in all of the branches. “I’m part of the El Gato Negro identity” he says.

On the Leeds piece; Kennedy used 100-year-old glass, which was sent from Oxford University after being dug from the ground of the foundries in Ancoats: known as Little Italy, due to the Italian migrants who settles there and made the area famous for mosaics and ice cream. Kennedy used Spectralock Pro Premium in antique white. “The reason I chose it,” explains Kennedy, is because it’s a resin-based material, which means it’s got a very solid grip. Also with it being glass, it has to be held very tightly, whereas cement or grout don’t tend to have the same grip as resin. Glass is difficult to hold, in the sense that it’s smooth.”

Kennedy added that Spectralock, which he also used on his mosaics at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, is a “material that has a rich tighter grip than a powder-based adhesive. The scope of Laticrete products is massive,” he continues. “That gives me a choice that I can’t find with any other brand. They are over and above any other company. There’s no doubt about it – they are world leaders. El Gato Negro are very happy with the Leeds piece.”

Spectralock Pro Premium Grout is a patented, high performance maintenance free epoxy grout which offers excellent colour uniformity, durability, stain protection, and beautiful, full grout joints in an easy-to-use, non-sag formula. It is designed for use on ceramic tile, glass tile and stone applications, both residential and commercial. It can be used on both interior and exterior floors and walls. Ideal for re-grouting applications. Spectralock Pro Premium is perfect for swimming pools, fountains and other wet area applications. 

It is stain proof and east to maintain, clean to the original colour, meets performance requirements of EN 13888 RG and has 80 minutes working time at 21°c. Spectralock Pro Premium also inhibits the growth of stain-causing mould and mildew in the grout joints with antimicrobial product penetration. It is ideal for installations at wide temperature ranges, tough, durable and crack-resistant, out performs cement based grout and its sticking appearance can be further enhanced by the incorporation of its high fashion ‘dazzle’ feature. 

Charles Clapham, Managing Director of Palace Chemicals, said “We are very impressed with Mark Kennedy’s latest mosaic work for El Gato, and are proud that our Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Grout helped him to achieve such a stunning end-result.”

Click here to learn more about Spectralock Pro Premium Grout.