Sheffield artist's iconic designs cover 'ugly' anti-terror blocks and brighten up the city

A Sheffield artist was commissioned by the council to design covers inspired by the city’s architecture for the anti-terror concrete blocks which have ‘blighted’ the city centre.

Sunday, 9th January 2022, 1:35 pm

Alan Pennington was tasked by Sheffield council last month with designing covers for the 12 anti-terror concrete blocks dotted around the city centre, and his results have impressed locals.

The covers were installed on January 7, and half are based on Alan’s Iconic Sheffield mug range, while the others are teasers for new designs that he will release in the future.

The artwork features well-known Sheffield landmarks, including the Roxy, Park Hill, and Sheffield Cathedral, in Alan’s typical bright, minimalist style.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Alan designed covers for 12 anti-terror concrete blocks in Sheffield city centre. Picture: Steel City Snapper.

Alan said: “I showed the council my designs and they said they really love them. They celebrate the city.

"My subjects tend to be iconic buildings around the city that people love. The idea I have always had is simplifying an iconic view, which sounds easy but then you have fewer lines to make something that people will recognise.

"A lot of architecture in Sheffield is brualist ugly concrete buildings. It has almost gone full circle, now there is big love for that unapologetic style. These buildings remind people of home. The concrete blocks are bleak and boring. This brightens the city up and adds colour.”

Alan was commissioned by Dan Walker to create a custom piece for his Strictly Come Dancing partner, Nadiya Bychkova – his design showed the pair dancing in front of myriad Sheffield hotspots, and Dan’s favourite curry house Prithiraj even made an appearance.

Alan said that people were falling back in love with brutalist architecture. Picture: Steel City Snapper.

“I have had an amazing response. Hundreds of people are sharing it online and quite a few people have got in touch about wanting to do an exhibition which will happen later in the year. That will be a new series of ten pieces.”

A Facebook post written by photographer Steel City Snapper yesterday (January 8), said: “At last the council have decided to do something with the ugly concrete blocks that have blighted the city centre for a couple of years now and they’ve commissioned Alan to create these fab covers featuring local landmarks, past and present.

"There are plenty more concrete blocks around town so hopefully more artworks will be commissioned soon.”

You can find Alan’s Etsy store, selling his mugs, prints, and custom pieces, here.

Alan has been working as an artist since 2007 and says that his style has evolved over the years.
Sheffield Cathedral. Alan's work is bringing colour to the city centre. Picture: Steel City Snapper.
Alan has received a positive response to his designs from the Sheffield public. Image: Steel City Snapper.
The cover designs are based on iconic landmarks from across the city. Image: Steel City Snapper.