Though her buildings are impressive and her cul-de-sacs amazing
She’s had too many lovers and I know you’re out there waiting”
– “Sheffield Sex City”, Pulp
All photos: NoLionsInEngland
Sheffield, up North, 3 hours ish out of St Pancras, why I have not done this before? The buildings, the music, the artists – all legends. “Let’s all go to Aida’s show!” A trip to Sheffield just happened, at last.
Sheffield’s artistic delights included non permissioned art spread out on the streets, derelict buildings battered by art and graffiti and a whole host of permissioned murals.
Our first little wander is piloted with the aid of a map scraped off the net showing the locations of Phlegm paintings visible on the street though the route is propelled more by the desire to locate food. Phlegm on the side of The Riverside where a microbrewed pale ale at £2.95 is just too crazy to leave in the barrel but the early shift chef can keep his bleach tasting burgers.
Through the streets we wander finding Kid Acne, EMA,D7606, evidence of a visit by London style meister Petro and a number of artists new to us.
We spied quite a few stunning pieces of rooftop graf, my favourite being this Cres/Anubis couple.
Proper artist Simon Kent is a sculptor whose “proper art” could be described as Easter Island influenced human figures but on the streets he puts up charcoal coloured portraits which sit in corners looking moody, dark and “sculptural”.
A chance encounter with writer Aero at our first dead building carcass results in us assisting him to slide into said property, which may have been our tiny contribution to this little beauty ending up on a wall inside.
The next morning was spent in intensive care at TamperCoffee, Sellers Wheel wrapping myself around several cups of Earl Grey and an awesome Eggs Benedict following which we had a wonderful explore of a classic Sheffield Crack Den (me: “what’s the name of this place?”; trusty local friend and guide: “Crack Den”; “So if I post a letter to Crack Den, Sheffield it will arrive here?”; TLFAG: “Put Sheffield S1, should narrow it down”).
Carefully and lightly navigating over glass, wood timbers, rubbish and needles, photographing as I went, I emerged into a rough courtyard space, photographed a load of graff ahead of and around me then 10 minutes later turned to go back through the shattered window I had climbed out of only to realise I had actually emerged right under a classic Phlegm piece familiar from many street art blogs and flickr accounts, I just didn’t know it was there, those special moments of discovery and revelation are spine tingling.
We wandered up a steep incline to an abandoned ski village – in Sheffield, who’d have thought? Found some small amounts of graffiti, stunning views and some plastic bin lids to slide down the relics of the old dry slope matting – “such fun”!
In a second building we found lots of dereliction, plenty of graff of varying quality and in amongst it all, some surprisingly beautiful art by incredible artists completely new to these eyes.
Two lads putting the art and graff together to good effect are Xhastexo and Byne BS
Getting on to the more acceptable face of street art – if you are a Sheffield burgher – there was plenty of evidence that Sheffield has developed considerable formal pride in its home grown street art talent. Our visit was ostensibly to check out Aida’s first solo show at the Bradbury and Blanchard Gallery and a quick scan over the list of previous shows in that space indicates a deep reservoir of local street art talent have exhibited on their gallery walls. We found art spaces, exhibition halls and building site hoardings all giving permissioned space to graffiti and street art talent.
We found earlier Phlegm pieces, early evolutionary forms of the spindly monochromatic Phlegm folk we now know well and love, as well as Phlegm fronting for a major Sheffield art gallery and of course, many more of those folorn Phlegm characters in their technology free heath robinson world
I never knew this kind of crazy abstract camouflage was in EMA’s repertoire
Tell you another thing I never expected – a wall painted by Rolf Harris back in the day!
Two Sheffield artists whose work I have vicariously admired from afar are Faunagraphic and Rocket01, I did find art by these folks though it was not really the kind of their art that I was looking for. Sheffield, I have unfinished business!
Wandering the streets, deserted, finding little art gems, petite cadeaux from artists left on the walls, it felt like the kind of magical voyage of discovery we had in Shoreditch years ago before everyone became street art photographers (believe it or not, there was a time when I refused to put my photos on the net and HowAboutNo beat my fingers with a hammer to make me join Flickr). My friends and I on these wanders owe thanks to Sheffield artist Jo Peel who showed us streets, pubs with lock-ins and buildings with lock-outs. One thing that became apparent was exactly where Jo’s art has its roots.
In a very short dash we really only scratched the surface, a trio of grimy derelict locations and a bit of a wander yet we saw so much. The great thing is there remains so much more to see, so that combined with the natural spot churn will definitely going to make further trips to Sheffield worthwhile.
It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge that there are some passionate and expert Sheffield street art and graffiti photographers and bloggers whose posts and pictures inspired me and whose dedication and passion I tip my hat to. All errors of identity, location, style here are entirely mine.