If you go down to the woods this weekend you’re sure of a very big surprise indeed.
Nestled among the blossoming bluebells in Storrs Wood, Stannington, are a number of beautiful sculptures hand-carved out of stone.
Among them is a sculpture entitled Naked, a female form curled into the foetal position which has been carved out of a naturally-occurring boulder in the wood.
And a creepy-looking stone head, consuming another head, is aptly named Dog Eat Dog.
The pieces have been created by Andrew Vickers, one of dozens of artists who have agreed to open up their work spaces as part of this year’s Open Up Sheffield event.
Andrew, the man behind Stoneface Sculpture, will show off his creations in Storrs Wood, where he spends most of his days working on his sought-after creations.
“They’re almost a diary of my life,” he said.
“I carve based on the emotions I’m feeling. I’m dyslexic so I find it very difficult to read and write, and this for me is almost a diary of my life.
“I’ve just finished Dog Eat Dog. It’s about one person being devoured by another – I won’t name names but that’s one example of how I use the sculptures to diarise things.”
Andrew, aged 49, followed an unusual pathway into his current profession.
“I used to build dry stone walls,” he said. “You spend a long time alone and I was sitting up on the moors one day looking at all these miles of walls. You think, ‘I wonder who built these?’.
“So that people would know the walls that I built, I started putting faces in them using a hammer and chisel.
“I did it very blasé – I didn’t know I could carve faces. But that’s where my name has come from – Stoneface Sculpture.”
Dungworth-based Andrew, whose partner, Niki Connolly is expecting a baby in July, has created sculptures out of stone, bronze, steel and stainless steel for a number of super-rich clients including Cliff Richard and Rick Allen the drummer from Def Leppard, along with commercial clients including Meadowhall.
But he admits he feels like a bit of a ‘fake’ sometimes, having never studied at art school.
“I found I could carve faces and it was as simple as that – I never had any training,” he said. “It’s moved on from just faces – I do full figures and all sorts now.
“People come up to me and ask where I studied, which university I went to, and I always feel like a fake because I never studied art. I’m always amazed by people’s reactions to my work.”
Not too far from Storrs Wood, fine art photographer Paul Schatzberger will be opening up his studio, home and garden at 78 Carr Road, Walkley, to visitors from Saturday until Monday.
Paul, aged 64, is a former GP who practised both medicine and photography for 34 years before leaving the NHS in 2007 to become an artist full time.
Since then he has had his work exhibited around the country.
On show in his studio gallery will be new exhibition photographs, limited edition prints, greetings cards and his photo book, Paul Schatzberger photographs 1972-2009.
Paul is also offering a free instant Polaroid portrait with the purchase of any original photograph.
A short stroll up the hill onto South Road in Walkley, artists Lizzy Alageswaran and Rachel Durance will be getting crafty at St Mary’s Community Hall.
The pair, who are both members of the Walkley Edge Artists group, will be inviting visitors to help them create the Machine for Generating Happiness.
“The project stemmed from the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire this year,” said Rachel, aged 30, who lives in Walkley.
“We wanted to do a big, community event about happiness and joy. Sheffield, and Yorkshire in general, is going to be in the media quite a bit so we wanted to do a project to bring people together and share what makes them happy.”
The family-friendly machine is already under construction by Lizzy using copious amounts of willow, tissue paper and shiny fabric. “Parts of it are animated so the mouth opens and shuts,” said Rachel.
“We’re also hoping it might be able to ‘poop’ out prizes! We really like the idea because in life everyone gets pooped on at some point, so we might as well make a fun experience out of it and let people get a prize for taking part.
“You don’t get anything back in life unless you put something in, after all.”
If you’re looking for something slightly more glamorous, then Meersbrook-based Mary Else could have the open studio for you.
The 55-year-old mother-of-two creates fabulous pots, slabs and sculptures in vibrant colours with inspiration from screen siren Marilyn Monroe.
Many of her pieces include Marilyn’s face or elements of it such as her eyes, mouth, nose or eyelashes.
“My fascination with her began years ago when I was at art college and I still can’t get her out of my head,” said Mary, who is a design and technology teacher in a secondary school. “There’s something about her – she has got a great face. It’s a bit of an obsession. I don’t look anything like her unfortunately!”
Showcase engages a curious public
Artists Open Studios 2014 will run over the next two weekends.
Arty folk from across the city and beyond will give free entry into a fascinating variety of studios and work spaces this Saturday to Monday, and on May 10 and 11.
The event, organised by not-for-profit group Open Up, gives visitors a chance to meet artists in their own environment and learn what they do, why and how.
Many artists will demonstrate their techniques as part of the event and will also welcome enquiries and commissions and tuition.
A spokesman from Open Up Sheffield said: “The event offers artists opportunities to showcase their work, engage a curious public, and network with other artists, all within a supportive digital and live environment.
“We aim to serve visual artists, participants and audiences by serving and developing their longer-term needs, creating long-term value to our work.”
Most of the artists will open up their studios from 11am to 5pm.
For a full list of who is taking part and where you can find them, visit www.openupsheffield.co.uk