I reminisced at Pete McKee's new Sheffield exhibition and it brought a tear to my eye
I laughed, I reminisced and I had a tear in my eye.
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There wasn't a chance I was going to miss an immersive art exhibition in Sheffield city centre, created by one of the city's most loved sons, based on one of my favourite pieces of street art etched on the side of possibly my number one Steel City pub.
That's a lot of my favourite things colliding together, so when I heard about Pete McKee's 'Frank & Joy - A Love Story' exhibition setting up at Trafalgar Warehouse, I knew I had to be there.
Throw in the famous 'The Snog' mural on the side of the excellent Fagan's pub for some context and you have yourself a Sheffield love story, never mind just Frank & Joy!
The exhibition itself is McKee in all his glory. There are moments of pure joy, such as the scene in 'The Arrival', moments to laugh out loud like the very believable notice board signs or the sandwich specials, and moments to reflect, like the audio element of the exhibition.
The life events of Frank & Joy, the couple made famous by 'The Snog' mural painted on the side of Fagan's pub, are chartered through McKee's work, from meeting, to their wedding reception, all the way through to their 50th wedding anniversary.
We're also introduced to some of the other regulars in the Buffer's Rest. The Saturday Lads, Mrs Mackeson and others, who make the place what it is. They're the type of folk who you may not go to the pub to see specifically, but you're always happy when they're there.
The way Frank & Joy's life is entwined around the pub's bar stools and beer pumps brings the setting to life. The piece of artwork which shows the Buffer's Rest boarded up and waiting for new owners, unfortunately, says a lot about the state of the country's public houses in the modern day.
And that's why, for a moment, I had a tear in my eye.
'I will love you forever'
During the exhibition you get taken to a dark room, and then we see some flowers on a pub table, and Frank's voice talking about the love of his life Joy. We assume it is at her wake.
Frank is heard to say: "I will love you forever, until the end of our days." I imagine that is half said to Joy and the Buffer's Rest, where the two shared so many precious moments.
The symmetry between one generation leaving us, and the decline of the local pub, is something that McKee has captured masterfully.
It brought back memories of being in pubs and working men's clubs with my late grandfather, dominoes on the table and fag in hand.
I was also reminded that the local is the ultimate setting for life's events. The characters, the noises, the smells and the stories are what we remember, but the setting is all important as it brings all of these things together. It's a melting pot of laughs, tears, kisses and hugs. Jokes, romances, friendships and routines.
The exhibition brought something from the back of my mind to the forefront and allowed me to soak up the atmosphere of an old fashioned local once more. It reminded me we should hold these places dear and use them before they are lost forever.
That brings me on to the miniature of much-loved Sheffield boozer, Fagan's, which stands proudly in a box in the gift shop.
'The Snog' stands proudly in miniature form, too. The image that kicked off this whole sequence of events and has become a landmark in its own right on the streets of the Steel City. What a work of art it is by sculptor Dean Rogan, capturing every perfect imperfection.
I'll drink to that. Cheers, Pete.
Frank & Joy - A Love Story is on at Trafalgar Warehouse until November 19. Remaining tickets can be booked here.