IT is the annual art show which in the past has included paintings painted with Henderson’s Relish, sculptures sculpted from Sheffield rubbish and a 21-yeard-old Doncaster lass displaying pictures of herself in the buff.
“If you can say one thing about this event,” says Mike Fearne, “it’s that it’s always diverse.”
Welcome to the Great Sheffield Art Show.
This annual institution – the biggest of its kind in the north of England – will return to the Octagon Centre next weekend for its 25th year.
Some 598 amateur artists – most from South Yorkshire but from across the country too – will show off 1,296 pieces over three days to an expected 3,000 visitors. More than £30,000 worth of art is expected to be sold in all, while 100 volunteers will be on hand to staff the event.
And, as connoisseurs have come to expect, there will be plenty of the aforementioned variety on show.
Think oils, watercolour, acrylic and digital. Think portraits, patterns and pictures of St Paul’s Tower. And, of course (because this is Sheffield after all) think Henderson’s.
“There always seems to be a picture of that somewhere,” notes Mike, chairman of the organising committee. “Last year an artist called Ian Spooner did a painting actually using the relish. But this year a chap called Bryan Hible has done a painting of a bottle.”
He, like all exhibitors, was chosen at one of three special selection days held this year.
“As an amateur artist,” says 70-year-old Mike who has been at the helm since 2000, “getting your picture on show here is like winning The X Factor.
“You’ll see people arrive at the selection process excited and then if their piece gets chosen, it’s complete elation.”
And one person especially punching the air last year was that Hendo’s painter Bryan.
The 47-year-old, who comes from High Green but now lives in north Nottinghamshire, won the 2011 best in show prize with a painting of a monopoly set.
“It was a bolt out of the blue,” he says. “There are so many great artists, it was just a fantastic feeling. I can’t wait for this year’s event.”
And there’ll be 27 professionals there too, displaying work on the perimeter of the venue.
One will be Sheffield-girl-done-good Helen Parsley. She’s particularly fond of the show because it was while displaying there in 2004 she sold her first ever work.
“There’s a real camaraderie,” says the 48-year-old, originally from Shoreham Street, but now in Manchester. “Back then I’d just given up illustrating children’s books and I wasn’t sure if anyone would buy my serious work so displaying at the show was a huge boost. I think most people feel like that.”
Takes place from Friday June 29 to Sunday July 1, at the Octagon Centre, Western Bank. See www.gsas.co.uk for opening times and prices.
Isobel makes an exhibition of herself
IT was 1987 when art lover Isobel Blincow, pictured, approached Sheffield City Council with the idea of putting on a huge amateur art exhibition.
The authority did not want to know.
With preparations for the World Student Games under way, officers told her they already had too much on.
So she did it herself.
“She put a business proposal together, applied for a £5,000 loan from the bank and, I think to her amazement, they supported her,” says Mike Fearn.
That first show made enough commission to pay the loan off and stage a second. Ever since all surplus profit has been given to charities.