Sheffield gardens are a broad canvas

Chris Slater enjoying working in the sunshine
Chris Slater enjoying working in the sunshine
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The numbers speak for themselves.

Ten thousand visitors, 300 artists and craftspeople and 4,000 pieces of work make Sheffield’s Art in the Gardens the biggest outdoor show of its kind in the north of England.

The show - back in the Botanical Gardens on Saturday and Sunday - is now in its 12th year, and like any event well into its second decade, organisers the city council will be hoping to achieve the necessary balance between the novel and the familiar.

A definite fixture is the exhibition in the gardens’ Victorian bear pit. This year the space is occupied by Paul Smith, who creates ceramic figurative sculptures in his studio close to the Peak Park.

Meanwhile the ‘premier artists’ for 2015 include Helen Parsley, Brian Robinson, Maggie Robinson, Eve Olsen, Tim Rose, Gareth Watling and Steve Elliott.

The range of creativity on display extends from photography and ceramics to textiles, printmaking, leatherwork, woodturning and sculpture.

Sheffield artist Joe Scarborough will be painting in the east pavilion along with Ruth and Phil Lockwood, Trevor Neal, Richard Johnson, Vivienne Cawson, David Brightmore and Wendy Carlton.

Outdoor sculptures will be displayed on the lawns by artists including Edwin Peat - a farmer who learned welding techniques repairing machines - and Jason Turpin-Thomson, who will be hand-chiselling a carving.

There is also a dedicated children’s area, live music and food and drink stalls, such as the Street Food Chef and Sunshine Pizza Oven.

Alexandra Sitwell, owner of Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire, will judge the annual Portraits of Distinction competition at the VIP preview evening. Alexandra is the subject of this year’s contest - previous participants include Pulp drummer Nick Banks and singer Dave Berry.

The role of booking artists has this year been taken on by Lesley Webster, from Sheffield Council’s major evsents team, after curator Sharon Gill stepped down in 2014. The event is still managed by the team’s Howard Simpson.

Council cabinet member Isobel Bowler said the show’s ‘quality and sheer scale’ ensures the crowds come back ‘year after year’.

n Tickets for the preview - tomorrow (Friday) from 6.30pm - cost £6, admitting two adults. Visit www.artinthegardens.com for more information.