7ft tall 'Salmon of Steel' sculpture unveiled outside Sheffield train station

A sculpture that celebrates both the Steel City’s industrial past and the return of Atlantic salmon to the area’s rivers has been unveiled outside Sheffield train station.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 12:30 pm

The ‘Salmon of Steel’ is a seven-foot-tall sculpture created by the Wakefield-based scrap metal artist Jason Heppenstall created from Sheffield steel, recycled cutlery and tools - and two 1960s lamps.

It was commissioned as part of the University of Sheffield Festival of the Mind 2020 to highlight the work that has taken place over the last two decades to improve water quality in the River Don and construction of fish passes on the 18 weirs that have historically impaired their progress.

The completion of these passes last year led to Atlantic salmon spawning on the River Don in Sheffield for the first time in 200 years.

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Sculpture unveiled to celebrate return of salmon to city's rivers outside Sheffield train station. Artist Jason Heppenstall.

As well as the leaping salmon sculpture, a trail map, illustrated by Sophie Carter, that takes walkers on a journey weaving with the river through the city has also been created along with a podcast featuring stories of Sheffield’s past and how it shaped the river.

A 3D image of the sculpture will be available online, alongside the map and podcast.

The sculpture, trail and podcast grew out of an earlier collaboration between the Don Catchment Rivers Trust and Dr Deborah Dawson, a conservation geneticist at the University of Sheffield, who has investigated the return of Atlantic salmon to Sheffield.

She said: “The use of Sheffield steel in the sculpture represents a number of things. Firstly, the many industries located on the banks of the River Don, which historically polluted the river and were powered by the use of weirs which still block fish migration routes today.

Jason Heppenstall with his 'Salmon of Steel' scuplture.

Secondly, the steely determination of salmon in their attempts to reach their spawning grounds and last but not least, the true grit of the many agencies, charities and volunteers who have worked in so many ways over many years to reverse the damage done and supported the recovery of the river."

For more information on the Festival of the Mind - which will take place from 17 to 27 September live and online - visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/fotm.

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Artist Jason Heppenstall, Chris Firth and Sally Hyslop from the Don Catchment River Trust, Professor Vanessa Toulin and Dr Deborah Dawson from the University of Sheffield and Anthony Downing from the Environment Agency.