ONE day, while walking to work along the River Sheaf, Malcolm Camp had a rather unusual fancy.
“I wondered what you could make if you took all the shopping trolleys which had been dumped in there and sculpted them into something,” he says. “It was a daft idea but it wouldn’t go away.”
This weekend that daft idea is to become a reality.
More than 30 of the supermarket mainstays have been pulled out of the city’s waterways over the last 12 months – and they are now to be turned into a towering 20-foot piece of public art.
The sculpture will be unveiled at the sixth annual Down By The Riverside festival, a two-day jamboree of water sports, nature walks and family fun celebrating Sheffield’s rich aqua-heritage.
“A professional welder will turn them into a trolley mountain,” says Malcolm, of Heeley. “Then a Guy called Don – get it? – will be put on top and set alight.
“Sort of like in The Wicker Man.”
We promise he’s for – ahem – wheel.
“It’s a bit of fun,” says Hellen Hornby, one of the organisers behind the festival which takes place where the Don runs through Kelham Island Museum and at the nearby Nursery Street Pocket Park. “But there’s also a serious message.
“We’re highlighting what is a fundamental problem: dumping in the river. Wherever you get a bridge you get people throwing trolleys in. It’s horrible. We’ve pulled 30 out this year from the Sheaf, the Don and the canal but we know there are more down there.”
It was seeing those trollies which gave environment worker Malcolm his unusual idea.
He’s toiled as a volunteer cleaning the waterways for years (“it’s a cause I believe in”) and knew Hellen, community manager with the city’s River Stewardship Company, might be able to get the proposal commissioned.
”What did I think when he suggested it?” she ponders. “I thought it was definitely...different. But the more I considered it, the more I thought it was an idea with potential.”
And so they started putting it into action.
Trolleys pulled out were stored at Tinsley Marina, Sheffield sculptor Jess Thorn was commissioned, and the date set.
Now, the piece will go up in the Nursery Street Pocket Park on Saturday before the Guy is attached on Sunday evening for the festival’s pyrotechnic closing ceremony.
“Lighting the guy is like a symbolic purging of the pollution,” says Hellen.
The piece will then be taken down on Monday and the trolleys handed over for recycling.
“Will we do something similar next year?” she says. “I’m not sure. I suppose it would be nice to think we didn’t have to.”
Water on earth is Down By The Riverside?
SHEFFIELD is a city built on five rivers, and the annual Down By The Riverside festival celebrates this.
Live bands, community stalls, craft demonstrations and refreshments will be enjoyed on the water’s edge while, for the more active, there will be a chance to try kayaking and rafting. Organised nature trails will be held.
The two day extravaganza will climax with the opening of the new Nursery Street Pocket Park and a pyrotechnic performance.
The festival runs at Kelham Island Museum and Nursery Street Pocket Park Saturday, 11am – 7pm, and Sunday, 11am – 5pm. Entry is £3.50.