Sheffield landmark captured by city legend Joe Scarborough – here’s how you can get your hands on a copy
One of Sheffield’s best-loved artists has captured a city landmark in his inimitable style, helping to raise money for the historic building’s preservation.
Joe Scarborough’s painting of Portland Works, which is known as the birthplace of stainless steel manufacturing, bears his usual hallmarks in the vibrant colours, intricate details and numerous stories playing out across the canvas.
The painting was commissioned to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Little Mesters factory, built in 1879, and limited edition prints are now being sold to raise £20,000 towards the ongoing restoration of the Grade II*-listed building.
The former cutlery works, which is one of the last remaining working buildings of its kind, had fallen into dereliction before undergoing a revival in 2013.
Since then, the premises on Randall Street, off Bramall Lane, have been transformed into a makers’ hub where traditional crafts are practised alongside more modern ones, but the restoration is far from complete.
Joe, who spent four months working on his latest masterpiece, described it as both a love letter to the building itself and a paean to a lost way of life.
The 81-year-old told how he relished the project, having overcome his initial misgivings.
“It was a commission of despair initially. My first thoughts, on looking at the building, were too many windows, too many bricks,” he said.
“Slowly but surely, though, I began to look at it as an amphitheatre because not only is it the same shape, it’s a theatre with many acts in it providing entertainment.
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“You’ve got a chap called Stuart making knives, a lady who makes and repairs Persian carpets, and like any sort of theatre you have an interval in which to get a drink, which is provided by the gin-makers of Locksley Distilling.
“It’s a cornucopia of tiny little acts all going on at the same time, but I also wanted to show a bit of its past along with the present.
“That’s why you have the buffer girls, inspired by the amazing sculpture outside City Hall, and the union jack, which is a nod to Def Leppard, who used to rehearse there.
“I wanted to capture people coming and going to and from work, which for me is the great religion of the north.
“I bet most people in Sheffield know someone who at some point in their life worked either at Portland Works or somewhere very much like it. Places like Portland Works are part of my childhood.
“Lots of people will have walked past that building but never been inside and because I know deep down people are nosy I wanted to show them what’s on the other side of those walls. I was able to do that because the paintbrush is mightier than the JCB.”
Joe unveiled the painting during an open day at Portland Works on Saturday, when the first of the 200 prints was auctioned off, raising £260.
The remaining prints are available for sale, priced £100, via the Portland Works website.