City artist Pete McKee says he is ‘dead chuffed’ to finish his biggest ever painting – and to learn the umbrella was invented in Sheffield.
Pete painted the 46ft x 16ft mural at a new retail development, which has transformed the former Fox Valley steelworks, in Stocksbridge.
In the stunning work, painted 60ft high, Pete pays homage to all the former Fox Valley steelworkers – and to the umbrella which was invented there.
Pete said: “It’s important to remember our heritage and I wanted to pay tribute to all the people that worked in the steelworks. I wanted to make something that the workers’ families can look at today and be proud of too.”
While researching the project Pete learned that the paragon umbrella – still the most common frame design – was invented by an employee at the works and patented by owner Samuel Fox in the 1850s.
Pete said: “I had no idea that the umbrella design which everybody still uses was invented in Sheffield. We’re famous for a lot of things, bit I didn’t realise umbrellas was one.
“It’s funny really, I suppose it’s one of those lost Sheffield facts. So it was good to get that into the design.”
To create the enormous piece, Pete drew a design on paper, measured a grid over it, and then scaled-up the design to the size of the wall.
To get the mural so high up, Pete used a cherry picker crane.
He said: “It’s just like the kids books to draw Pluto. You just try to copy each grid of the design like-for-like.
“Lucky for me I had the amazing Penistone street artist Chris Butcher, known as Rocket, to help out and we got it completed in just over a week.
“I’m dead chuffed with how it’s turned out, really proud. It’s the biggest piece I’ve done by a long way.”
The new retail development, which homes even more of Pete’s work, opens on June 16. Visit www.petemckee.com and www.foxvalleysheffield.co.uk