It is the annual art show which in the past has included paintings painted with Henderson’s Relish, sculptures from Sheffield rubbish and, last year, a quartet of City College girls welcoming visitors while dressed – artistically – in hotpants, boob tubes and sailor hats.
“If there’s one thing you should expect at this event,” says organiser Mike Fearne, “it’s very much the unexpected.”
Welcome, reader, to The Great Sheffield Art Show.
The annual institution – the biggest of its kind in the north – returns to the Octagon Centre this weekend. And organisers are promising the biggest, best and, of course, most varied collection of works in the event’s 27 year history.
Some 1,150 pieces by 24 professional and 250 amateur artists – the vast majority from South Yorkshire – will be exhibited over three days. It is expected to attract more than 2,500 people, although it’s not clear if that same welcoming committee will be there this year.
“What can visitors expect,” says co-organiser Katriona Lister. “All sorts – oils and acrylics, paintings and portraits, and a ferocious-looking dragon sculpture.”
If it’s anything like 2011, there’ll also be a picture of the Henderson’s factory which so enamoured Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot he snapped it up for his home in Ireland.
“It’s great when someone sells something of course,” says Ruth Lockwood, who has volunteered and displayed for more than 20 years. “But the important thing is that this is an open show where we encourage everyone to have a go at submitting work. We really try not to reject anyone.”
She thinks for a second. “Although for the sake of space and quality, we can’t just accept every work,” she adds. “Still, we have so many talented people in Sheffield, it’s quite extraordinary.”
Among those exhibiting this year will be the show’s youngest ever contributor, nine-year-old Heather Speed. The Dobcroft Junior School pupil had three pictures accepted by judges.
“I’m so proud of her,” says dad Jonathan, a police officer who will also be displaying. “We sit and paint together but it’s starting to get to a point where I have to accept she’s better than me.”
Runs Friday to Sunday. See www.gsas.co.uk for times and ticket prices.
Making an exhibition of themselves
It was 1987 when art lover Isobel Blincow approached Sheffield City Council with the idea of putting on a huge amateur art exhibition.
The authority did not want to know.
Officers were struggling with preparations for the World Student Games and told her they had too much on. So she did it herself with a £5,000 loan.
The show made enough commission to pay the loan and a second was staged. It’s been going from strength to strength ever since with the 25th anniversary show last year, pictured, the most successful ever,