Pop-up art in a post office? It’s all sorted

Pictured are Darren Chouings(left) and Mark Riddington,Co-Directors of Prism, who are holding Prism 15 a monthly Arts night in the old Post Office inside Castle House,in Sheffield City Centre
Pictured are Darren Chouings(left) and Mark Riddington,Co-Directors of Prism, who are holding Prism 15 a monthly Arts night in the old Post Office inside Castle House,in Sheffield City Centre
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When Darren Chouings opens the door into the now defunct post office in Castle House, it’s almost colder inside than it is out.

No-one’s been in here for weeks. “We probably need a heater,” he shivers.

Perhaps. Because tonight this Angel Street complex where Sheffielders once posted parcels and picked up pensions (and, inevitably, spent plenty of time queuing to do so) will be turned into a pop-up exhibition space and proto-pub.

More than 400 revellers are expected to descend as eight artists from across the globe showcase their work, a city band performs live and drinks are sold across the old counter for - in this day and age - not much more than the cost of a first class stamp.

“It’s a pretty incredible space,” says organiser Darren when he shows The Diary round. “We like to host our events in unusual places and an old post office definitely works.”

When he says ‘our events’ he means Prism.

It’s a quarterly shindig, organised by Darren and friend Mark Riddington, which offers Sheffielders the chance to see international artists exhibiting in unique city venues for one evening only.

Tonight’s event at Castle House will be the 15th they’ve done in five years.

Others have been held everywhere from a derelict Shalesmoor garage to the unused upstairs of the Hutton Building in West Street. Some 4,500 people attended a show they put on at the Millennium Gallery which featured local-band-done-good 65 Days Of Static.

It’s grown into such a success, they’ve hosted a pilot in Manchester too.

“I guess it’s a mix between a very temporal gallery and a pre-nightclub bar,” says Darren, a 27-year-old Sheffield University enterprise officer, of Walkley. “I think that’s what people like about it.

“On the one hand you get something very cultural. On the other you can get a beer for £1.50. I think people like that combination instead of spending Friday night just standing in a pub talking about your dog or something.”

Perhaps the most bizarre exhibit they’ve had - and they’ve had 193 in all - was a potato on a plinth in a helium balloon.

“People loved it,” says Mark, a 24-year-old kitchen worker of Nether Edge. “Why? Because it’s a potato on a plinth.”

More standard stuff typically includes bands, painters, sculptors, video artists and digitalists.

“It’s all totally run on hype in a way,” explains Mark. “It’s a proper exhibition but it happens for just one night so it feels like a party.”

Tonight’s treats will include Sheffield band The Death Rays Of Ardilla - as well, of course, as a chance to look once more at the old post office.

“Worth the £2 entry alone,” says Darren.

He’s just hoping the building warms up a little.

Starts 8pm. See www.prismsheffield.co.uk