COLUMN: Antiques quarter has sown seeds for explosion of art

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Following on from my last column that touched on the considered value of looking local and independent I’d like to turn to art.

Our art projects are gingerly emerging with the first a mural by Jo Peel at Hagglers Corner.

It is funded by crowdfunding, businesses and the usual generosity of the artist doing ‘art for art’s sake’.

Close by, the savagely, breeze-blocked doorways of the Victorian toilets near Lowfield School cried out to become a secret garden trompe-l’œil so Simon Kent laid down his chainsaw for a brush.

On Abbeydale Road a gorgeous peacock by Jools Mathews at Vintedge lays claim to the Open Reach boxes which we since have permission to incorporate across the quarter and many more will become miniature high-rise flats at the hand of Sid Fletcher.

Sid’s also designing our anti-pollution logo and, in this vein, a recent contribution from the Nether Edge councillors funded the printing of four fabulous 1950s style poster designs by Lucy Bullen ordering passers to ‘Strut your Stuff’ and ‘Stop the Traffic’.

Coun Nikki Bond said: “Tackling poor air quality is enshrined in the Nether Edge ward priorities and it’s great to see art being used to get the message across.”

If we are determined schools can be brought together to develop art trails. Urban walkers, explorers and heritage groups can extend the Sheaf Valley and round walks to take in the delights of the Picture House, a plethora of listed buildings and mesters as well as the sounds of the River Sheaf.

As the quarter looks to highlight its treasures we remain supportive of the current push for Sheffield itself to devise a much needed ‘heritage strategy’.

Perhaps, art can even dare to tackle our community’s anti-social behaviour, dragging youths off the street, swapping their rockets for spray-paint and inspiring some personal ownership.

Too many artists to mention are on board with works in the pipeline and more irony can be found in the graffitied foxes that stalk the quarter crying out to become a satirical foxhunt trail calling everyone to keep an eye out. Watch out for a Faunagraphic mural marking a timely entrance this month while Persistence Works artists Susana North-Bates and Heather Dewick are proposing mosaics on buildings, celebrating the history of local trades.

To date the quarter has sown the seeds for a vibrant explosion of art over the next few years and you never know, we might even fill the cracks with Lego – anything is possible for art’s sake.