S1 Artspace December 3, 2010

S1 Artspace was established 15 years ago as the main artist-led organisation in Sheffield and is now a marked leader in the contemporary art scene of the city. It has offered studio spaces to artists and has remained consciously outward looking through its public exhibitions, screenings, discussions and by operating in broad support of artistic development. Artists’ residencies have included the exciting modernist duo Pil and Galia Kollectiv and audio visual artist Haroon Mirza, and many spectacular exhibitions are in the S1 archive such as Haegue Yang’s solo show (within Art Sheffield) earlier this year. Lest we forget, S1 has hosted some of Sheffield’s most entertaining and must-attend parties!

In anticipation of S1’s re-launch in brand new premises with a new exhibition to celebrate their progress and achievements so far, we spoke to their curator (and leading light) Louise Hutchinson about the hopeful future this unfolds for both the artist-led organisation and for Sheffield’s art scene.

Read more ⇒


Ema sorts Sidney Street August 26, 2010

Between Sheffield train station and Decathalon Sports store is Sidney Street. By all rights this should be the coolest street in Sheffield. There are empty warehouses, a handful of galleries, some artists studios, a dodgy boxing club, band rehearsal rooms, vacant lots, and it is all centrally located! Unfortunately, a total lack of shops, pubs, bars, cafes, clubs (although Niche used to be here), there is not much to do. What with Urban Splash having their hands full redeveloping Park Hill, the likelihood of Sidney Street becoming the new Northern Quarter are slim.
Fortunately a few people (Kid Acne, Phlegm included) are putting it to good use. Sidney Street is quickly becoming The Place for Sheffield graffiti. Central location, warehouses and complete civic disinterest in the area make it a prime spot.
Recently, French born, formerly of NYC, and now Paris based artist Dr.Ema has been putting up some excellent mustachioed teardrop paste ups. I’ve been cycling past them for the past couple weeks and thought it was time to share.


Sci Fi and Shopping. Meadowhall and Logan’s Run March 27, 2010

When you were small, did you ever get assigned to write a story about being trapped in a shopping centre overnight? After you finished the one about being shrunk to the size of a fingernail, or washed up on a desert island, it was all set to be your runaway bestseller.

In spidery Berol letters you set forth the horror of the urban shopping centre by sundown. ‘Nightmares In The Shopping Centre!!’ was the proposed title, and it was sure to reel in all the “Good Try” stickers from your teacher’s desk.

Back then, maybe, the English shopping centre was the stuff of nightmares. Good honest nightmares that didn’t pretend to be anything else. A windowless, airless hall of mirrored escalators, where fried food outlets encircled shoppers like vultures, discoloured tiles stuck fast to the surfaces on which they had long been laid, and an overhead hanging bulb or two tarred the whole scene with a nasty yellow light. Read more ⇒


Issue 11 February 13, 2010


Demolition - The Fire Station Starts to Fall January 11, 2010

There aren’t many spectator sports better than demolitions. They bring out emotions of retribution, joy, satisfaction and accomplishment. All you have to do is stay out of the way. Right now, a pretty spectacular one is going on in the city centre. The Fire Stations, who in honour of its impending destruction we eulogized in issue nine, is going down! I encourage you to pop down on your lunch break for a look. If you are lucky they will be ripping out a steel girder with a hydraulic clamp pincer thingy.

After some research, we have uncovered the demolition is being done by the Cuddy group. Apparently they are very good, currently holding the Demolition Company of the Year Award. (I love to think what the trophy looks like!) Other industry accolades include an award for Asbestos Supervisor of the Year and another for Industrial Demolition. Not just anyone can destroy a building it would seem. And these guys, are the best. The Manchester United of Demolition.



As discussed in our original article about the Firestation, destroying it is going to be a mission. Built to withstand nuclear blasts and the like, Cuddy have their work cut out for them. In the meantime, we can watch it ebb away, like a sand castle on the beach with waves lapping at its edges, a big red brick asbestos filled castle on the beach.


The Fargate Wheel, a Fun Fair in the City December 16, 2009

The Fargate Wheel, something more people take photos of than actually ride  

I’ve noticed a trend lately in British city centres. Alien architectural forms have been appearing amongst the dirty sandstone Victorian halls and glass and steel redevelopments that make up the 21st century urban centres.

When you’re arriving in Sheffield by train from the North, as you skirt the old steelworks and mills in the basin of Attercliffe, you get a view of the central skyline that has something very out of place about it. Amongst the familiar shapes of the Arts Tower swathed in plastic, the top of the Town Hall, the bright white rectangles of Hallam University, the brick red smudge of the Moorfoot Building and the grey spires of churches, the smooth circular crest of the ferris wheel on Fargate emerges clearly above the mass of the city. This bizarre shape came by itself, but recently the whole centre has periodically found itself filled with fun fair rides, appearing apparently out of nowhere and disappearing just as suddenly.

City centres have always used their public spaces as places for recreation and leisure, but before recently the garish and noisy excitement of the fun fair was never allowed to enter the heart of the city. This trend probably began with the London Eye, but since then almost every city centre in the country has hosted it’s own ‘eye’ for a while, and brought a host of other carnival rides with it, presumably to keep it company. Read more ⇒


Echoes of Blackburn Meadows September 21, 2009


Echoes of Blackburn Meadows is an sound project based on the history of, and situated at the site of the former Blackburn Meadows power station, home to the Cooling Towers. The project will eventually place radio transmitters across the site, allowing visitors to tune into a historical industrial soundscape of the site’s past. It’s an incredible idea, and one which we hope will add much to ideas that surround the changing Sheffield by avoiding blank symbolism and properly locating memories to form a greater, more critical understanding of place.

We spoke to Jennifer Rich, one of the team behind the project.

How did the project begin, and who is involved?

The project began as a dissertation for my MA in Landscape and Culture at the University of Nottingham in 2006. I looked at Sheffield’s municipal electricity supply up until it was nationalised in 1948, focusing specifically on the machines and architectures of Blackburn Meadows power station. Recently, geographers have begun to collaborate with artists under the title of ‘Public Geography,’ aiming for innovative and engaging methods of exhibiting research findings. As much of my research was based on oral histories with former workers of the power station, it seemed appropriate to explore sound as a medium and I teamed up with two sound artists, Lewis Heriz and Tom Dixon. It was really the demolition of the cooling towers in 2008 that gave the project the boost it needed. We were now able to look at the landscape as a whole and situate the towers within the wider and more dynamic landscapes of a power station. We put in an R&D bid to the Arts Council and here we are about to launch Echoes of Blackburn Meadows (EBM) phase I.

Read more ⇒


DeadSpace March 28, 2009

I, for one, am confused.

Sheffield is a city with loads of amazing, old, empty spaces. 

It’s also a city with loads of uninspiring, new, empty spaces. Not content with a mass of unused old buildings, Sheffield has taken upon itself to actively manufacture empty space on a huge scale. Empty office space is the new abandoned factory.

In many cities, the confirmation of post-industrial status is the reclamation of the spaces of defunct heavy production. It’s a symbolic thing - the language reflects as much of a mindset as the buildings themselves. Think of warehouse raves, various “culture breweries” around the world, even Warhol’s New York ‘factory.’ In the mythology of urban development these places are fun palaces, full of artists, creatives, liberal drug use and, eventually, high property values. It’s the signifier of a city’s shifting economic focus from manufacturing to other, less tangible bases. This isn’t a universal truth, but it is logical process - post-industrial cities are not invented overnight. 

Across the city centre you can see a series of new offices awaiting tenants. The city has gone into suspended animation, unsure of its own purpose. Generic office space, inoffensively designed, sits uncomfortably in a city like Sheffield which has no great density. These buildings’ blank presence look like a pretend city which might as well be just facades.

There is something that proves this isn’t the case however. Look inside any new building. The hard-to-let ground floor retail unit is as much a fixture of the ‘new’ city as manufacturing was of the ‘old.’ Every area has its despairing estate agent’s sign promising an ‘exciting opportunity’ affixed to a bare concrete shell. Thousands of square feet of office space is going unoccupied, with ghostly spaces looking as if they had been abandoned haunting the city centre.

This amount of construction is quite deliberate. The regeneration bodies acknowledge that Sheffield requires a greater amount of high specification office space in order to attract business and develop its ‘knowledge economy.’ This is focused on the city centre because such virtual industries are not constrained by proximity to physical resources as heavy industry once was. As part of this, the city seeks to create a ‘critical mass’ of businesses in the centre which will stimulate demand in the local economy through their operation. It’s a difficult situation, because it requires the creation of genuine business infrastructure in a city which has lost a great deal of it; the currently low number of businesses operating in the city means that fewer are attracted to begin with. 

There are two questions that come out of this. Why create this all anew when there are so many spaces that are unused and emptying all the time? And why so much? We don’t have the answers, and we’re more confused the more that we look.