Sheffield Talks


A Tale of One City

June 15, 2011

On Friday 17th June, Sheffield will be opening its pages to tell you some extraordinary tales in the ‘Storying Sheffield’ exhibition. From half a Ford Cortina, a Cabinet of Curiosities, a Rave Booth and an Indoor Garden, the stories being told are far from your typical hard-backed Hardy…

When you think of a story, the first thing that springs to mind is usually a fairytale. You remember those long-past days of being read that bedtime story of lands far, far away, of magic and of mystery. Yet, growing up, you start to question the possibility of finding such enchantments in the real world surrounded by repetitive tales of the gloomy economy and the sufferers of spending cuts.

However, a unique project titled ‘Storying Sheffield’ has brought a much-needed light to this darkening mindset. From within the University of Sheffield, a group of undergraduates were given the opportunity to venture beyond their sheltered cavern of Western Bank Library to meet some of the inspiring inhabitants living in and around Sheffield.

Through a series of narrative workshops, including a brilliant poetry workshop provided by Simon Armitage (aka Morrisey-look-alike), students and residents worked collaboratively to create a series of tales to tell in this pretty rare exhibition. They have created a number of stories revealing the true life within Sheffield and the real essence of the City, reminding us of the vitality of human nature and the importance to be found in aspects of the everyday.

Many of the individuals involved have led far from easy lives coming from backgrounds of social exclusion, mental illness or long term health issues. They have told their stories how they have wanted them to be told, voiced by themselves rather than through a stereotypical narrative often provided for them by their social situation. We are given an honest portrait of what makes them who they are beyond such circumstances, displaying a beautiful truth, rarely found in a world of super-injunctive fraudulence.

Their stories can be discovered in all shapes and sizes, from films about ice-skating, a football net woven full of tales, to live art-works-in-progress of the exhibition as the day unfolds.

Also showcasing at the exhibition comes the profound, student-made film, ‘Women of Steel,’ recording the admirable efforts of women working in the steel industry during WWII. This was a sell-out when played at The Showroom Cinema and is now being produced into a TV drama.

This free public exhibition promises to be a rare and astounding showcase of the genuine lives led in Sheffield.

So get yourselves down to the Jessop West Exhibition Space between 10-6, Friday 17th June to hear some fascinating tales worthy of being told.

Isla Badenoch.


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