Sheffield Blitz museum story inspires city artists

Sheffield artist Richard Johnson has created some pictures about the bombing of Weston Park Museum during the Sheffield Blitz that was featured in last Saturday’s Retro.

Saturday, 19th December 2015, 7:25 am

Richard, who runs a company with his wife Amanda called Kidology Arts, did the work earlier this year as part of a project working with children that went on show in Buxton earlier this year.

Richard said: “We focused on the Blue John that was smashed to smithereens. It was part of a bequest that was made just a year before the Blitz by Jimmy Puttrell, who was a well-known solicitor and an avid collector and climber and walker.

“Half of the collection was left to Sheffield and half was left to Buxton Museum. There was a stipulation that it needed to be on display.

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“Then the bomb dropped and pretty much smashed all of it to smithereens. After that the museum packed up everything up and put it in boxes on a lorry.

“They stored it in a farmer’s barn in Pilsley in the Peak District until after the war.”

Richard did some drawings based on the Blitz and the smashed Blue John ornaments and he and Amanda made a much bigger art and sound installation based on their work with Buxton children during music workshops.

They used a glass harp of Amanda’s that Richard says anyone can play.

The project was based on an imaginary story that a schoolboy accidentally discovered the crates of treasures in a barn.

Richard said: “I was fascinated the idea of these precious art treasures just in boxes left in this farmyard in a barn. It’s an amazing Dad’s Army-type story.”

He added: “It’s been shown in Buxton but it’s all about Sheffield really. I would love to get it shown in Sheffield in part or whole.”

Richard, whose father Martyn has written several successful books about his time as a policeman in Attercliffe in the What’s Tha Up To? series, said that his grandma, Mabel Mills, went through the Blitz in the Manor.

He said: “She used to tell us about the sounds. She was safely out of the area being bombed but she could hear it all night long.

“She talked about Belching Bertha, which I think was one of the ack-ack guns.”