X marks the shot

A Day In The Life Of Parson X by Tessa Bunney
A Day In The Life Of Parson X by Tessa Bunney
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IT begins with breakfast in Lilia’s cafe (“bacon and tomatoes, well done”), and concludes some 12 hours later with a pint in the Parson Cross pub.

In between there are stop offs for a trim at Stallions hairdressers (“all off,” demands one customer), a bingo session at Adlington Community Centre and a chat with the Wordsworth Avenue lollipop lady.

Welcome, readers, to an ordinary day in the life of an ordinary Sheffield estate.

These pictures are the result of what happened when international documentary photographer Tessa Bunney spent 12 hours capturing much-maligned Parson Cross.

The results - now compiled in a fascinating book - are a non-too ordinary glimpse at the non-too-ordinary people which still make the 1930s neighbourhood special.

“I think it’s brilliant,” enthuses Diane Marshall, self-proclaimed chief sandwich maker at Lilia’s in Buchanan Road. “Why? Because my picture is there, of course.”

“Seriously, though, this place gets such a bad rep in the press but it’s not like that. These pictures show the true face and the community spirit.”

That true face, it seems, includes everything from pensioners gossiping over cups of tea to lads playing pool with pints of lager; from a gardener planting flowers to a chap walking the dog.

Here, it seems, is friendship, hard work and not a little routine.

“I come in seven days week,” notes one punter snapped in the Parson Cross pub, in Deerlands Avenue. “After work for an hour a day and then on Saturday and Sunday.”

And if the project seems a little unusual, well, that’s because it is.

It came about ahead of nine art studios opening in the estate’s new Soar Works enterprise complex in Knutton Road. Yorkshire Artspace, the company which manages the studios, wanted to simultaneously show artists the benefits of working in Parson Cross while also showing Parson Cross the benefits of artists working there.

As such, it hired Burngreave creative-type Steve Pool and partner Katie Genever to spend a year spreading that message. They in turn commissioned several projects including a small film about the area and free art works for seven independent shops. Tessa’s picture project was among these.

“Before I started I was anxious it would be a challenge to work in a city rather than my usual rural environment,” says the North Yorkshire snapper who has displayed in New York and London.

“But it was one of the most friendly and helpful communities I have worked in.”

She shot the pictures in October with the resulting book, A Day In The Life Of Parson X, being distributed this month.

“The results are incredible,” says Steve. “Tessa had never heard of Parson Cross before which meant she came to it without any preconceptions and just spent the day walking round with her camera.

“The idea was to make a few books and drop them around different places - community centres, barbers, doctors waiting rooms, just places where people could flick through and see their neighbours - but they’ve been so popular we’re already getting people asking for their own copy.

“I think she’s somehow managed to capture a time and a place. I think it’s turned into something important.”

An outdoor screening of the stills, as well as a selection of short films made during the last year, will be shown this evening outside the Library Learning Zone, in Wordsworth Avenue, from 6pm.