Striking new art installation is love letter to Sheffield from some of its best known people

A new art installation designed to inspire the people of Sheffield throughout the pandemic has been installed in Fitzalan Square this week.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:45 pm

Quotes For Hope, by Sheffield artist Sally Wilson and commissioned by DINA arts organisation, has seen 36 colourful banners hung up across the square, each bearing messages of optimism and inspiration provided by a mixture of Sheffield’s famous citizens from the world of music, visual arts and theatre alongside youngsters from Ellesmere Children's Centre.

The contributors are all from Sheffield or have strong connections to the city, and include presenter Michael Palin, Crucible director Rob Hastie, musician Richard Hawley, Radio 1 DJs Toddla T and Annie Mac and sons Oisin and Riley, as well as Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, DJ Winston Hazel, and electro-pop icon Roisin Murphy.

The artist in charge, Sally Wilson, said: “Music, performance, and the arts are so important in reminding us who we are and what we can be, just look at the musical Standing At The Sky’s Edge.

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Part of the art installation that has been erected in Fitzalan Square. Picture Scott Merrylees

“We felt it was important to connect and reach out to people during these times and use art like a medicine.

"The idea was to make connections and create visible bonds with others by offering positive messages revealing our best-washed thoughts strung on a clothesline to air.”

DINA was formed in 2016 after the derelict pub and nightclub complex on the site was converted into a multi-storey building that became the heart of alternative arts and culture in Sheffield.

Unfortunately, the building on Cambridge Street unexpectedly had to close during the lockdown due to the council’s redevelopment plans for the area.

The art event has seen 36 colourful banners hung up across the square, each bearing messages of optimism and inspiration provided by a mixture of Sheffield’s famous citizens. Picture Scott Merrylees

Despite this challenge, they have successfully taken on new premises in central Sheffield next to Sheffield Hallam University and over-looking the newly landscaped square.

Quotes For Hope celebrates DINA's return and the opening of their new venue at 12 Fitzalan Square.

During the lockdown, DINA has run a celebrated programme of events working with hundreds of members of the public and international artists, supported by Arts Council England.

DINA director Deborah Egan said: “Quotes For Hope is an inspiring project and a love letter to the city from some of its best-known people. It is free and for everybody.

DINA's art programmer Evelyn Albrow un-furls part of the art installation that has been erected in Fitzalan Square. Picture Scott Merrylees

“It is a funny, uplifting experience that you can take in it just by looking out of the bus window or walking across the square.”

The contributors were asked to provide quotes of no more than 72 characters for the banners that will appear in the square between March 22 until April 23.

DINA's curator Evelyn Albrow said: "Early this year we asked Sheffield artists and creators what do you find motivating, moving and inspiring in current times and can you offer the people of Sheffield some words to make them smile?

“The response was amazing and an indication of the mindset of the people who work in our business. Everyone we approached, regardless of their celebrity status, was more than happy to contribute and offer their ideas for the benefit of the city.”

Evelyn added: “We would like to offer a big thank you to all the people who took part so freely.

"Sally and I felt that it was just as important to include the next generation of Sheffielders alongside the famous so amongst these cultural producers are the voices of city pre-schoolers from workshops we held at Ellesmere Children's Centre where they told us what makes them happy.

“We are delighted with the work that Sally has done and the fantastic responses we’ve received from artists, theatre-makers and musicians connected to the city. One thing you can rely on is that creative people and children will never be short of a few choice words, and as people suffer from increased anxiety and challenges to mental health. It is good to laugh and enjoy things that everyone can appreciate.”

DINA will open its doors properly in June with the release of lockdown restrictions.

Banners across Fitzalan square feature these quotes:

"How beauteous mankind is! I brave new world that has such people in’s.”

“One day we will swim in the ocean of communal joy to be human again.”

“Live life, spread love and onion gravy.”

“The Heart and Art of Sheffield will beat on.”

“Embrace mistakes and don’t be scared to be the student.”

“Let’s move into the future with a new kindness and appreciation for life.”

“As the dawn breaks over roof slates, Hope bung on every washing line.”

“Into the world’s nurturing arms, we race to embrace with gratitude, love and hope.”

“Keep that truck well oiled and put some air in those tyres. It’ll be reyt.”

“Come and have a dance with your mum. Don’t be ashamed.”

“Smile, laugh, be joyful. Positivity breeds happiness and success.”

“Spring will always come back and clothe our bones in greenness.”

“Untethered but drifting to a kinder future, unfettered & full of Joy.”

“Hang tight. Hold on. An embrace is waiting.”

“Laughter is infectious - become a super spreader!”

“A new day, a new beginning, gives us a new purpose every day.”

“If you’re adrift, it’s on a sea of horizons.”

“Find your magic in the mundane look. It’s there it waits for you every day.”

“Get your hands dirty. Hold your ground.”

“The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.”

“A child doesn’t stop playing without an audience, so why should I?”

“The thirsty drink hope, like an infinite water that flows through their veins.”

“My nanny makes me happy.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.