The face of stainless steel pioneer Harry Brearley, which had been splattered with paint and had the word ‘Corbyn’ daubed across it in giant letters in two separate attacks, will no longer greet pedestrians walking down Howard Street to Sheffield station.
Replacing it on the side wall of The Howard pub will be a cityscape reflecting the changing face of Sheffield, combining some of its best known landmarks with new ones rising beneath hovering cranes.
Artists were invited to submit their designs for the new artwork, and Jo Peel’s creation was chosen as the winning entry.
The Sheffield-based artist started work today on the giant mural, which is expected to take around a week to complete if the weather holds out.
“It’s a celebration of Sheffield as it is now, because it feels like a city in the middle of big changes, with so many new developments taking shape,” she said.
“I’ve worked in east London where the rate of development is so rapid people can’t keep up, and it’s interesting to see something similar happening here, albeit at a slower pace. It’s good to see things happening; I just hope it’s not at the expense of the city’s soul.
“It’s exciting to be working on such a prominent wall and it’s handy that it’s so close to my studio. I’ve already had lots of people asking what the new artwork’s going to be since I started today.”
Jo’s distinctive artwork is already a familiar sight across the city, with murals at locations including Love Square near the crown court and The Depot Bakery in Kelham Island. It can also be seen around the world, from Athens to Tokyo.
Jo grew up in Sheffield and after studying illustration at Falmouth College, she worked in Cornwall and London before returning to her native city around seven years ago.
She has asked us to keep the winning design for Howard Street under wraps until it is completed and the public can see it in person.
The Brearley mural is one of numerous large pieces of street art across Sheffield to have been defaced by vandals in recent years, but Jo was surprisingly philosophical when asked her thoughts on the spate of vandalism.
“It’s sad to see any artwork vandalised but it’s a public space so people are going to react to it and one reaction is vandalism,” she said.
“When you make work in a public space it’s not like working on a canvas. It’s been given to the wall and the space that wall occupies.”
The 42-foot Brearley mural was created in 2013 by the artist Faunagraphic, whose real name is Sarah Yates, to mark 100 years since Brearley invented the world's first 'rustless' stainless steel in his Brown Firth laboratory. It was commissioned by Marketing Sheffield and the 100 Club.
After the mural was defaced for a second time in 10 months earlier this year, Sheffield Council announced it was working with the pub and brewer Marston’s to commission new artwork.