Sheffield artist Jo talks about growing passion for urban regeneration

Sheffield artist Jo Peel has just launched the first of a series of online conversations on urban regeneration.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:18 pm

Best known for her large-scale wall murals that can be seen around the city, Jo produces artwork across a range of mediums including paint on canvas, animation and screen prints, all exploring the theme of urban regeneration.

Curious and inspired by the environment around her, Jo takes a collaborative approach to making work which she has developed and expanded over her 15-year career.

Each month Jo Peel In Conversation will introduce online audiences to the variety of experts with whom she has found common ground.

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Jo Peel and Nigel Dunnett show their dirty hands after pruning the Growing City installation last month - the plants were covered in grime

In the series opener at 7pm on Tuesday (May 11), Jo welcomed Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture at the University of Sheffield They discussed their shared interest in urban greening which has fuelled commissions for Chelsea Flower Show in 2017 and the University of Sheffield in 2018.

Jo and Nigel’s most recent collaboration for Yorkshire Arts Space is a 30-metre living wall on the facade of the Persistence Works on Brown Street in the centre of Sheffield.

The programme was slightly disrupted by a natural phenomenon – a severe thunderstorm that hit the city on that night cut the connection between Jo and Nigel during their discussion.

The Growing City installation at Persistence Works in Sheffield

Part vertical garden, part art installation, the pair completed the Growing City shortly before the first national lockdown. A year on when they came to maintain the work, they witnessed the direct impact of city pollution; a thick black film of grime covering the murals’ plants.

This record of human impact on the natural world remains in place and, as the plants grow and decay and grow once again, the symbolism of resilience and regeneration is not lost at this time.

Jo said: “For me, cities are fertile meeting grounds where people, architecture, cultures and ideas collide with each other and also with nature. It is not surprising then, as someone born and raised in Sheffield, that I have an inclination to collaborate with others.

"I welcome their fresh perspective and new ways of seeing and the rich exchange this experience offers.”

In June, Jo and filmmaker Jordan Carroll will discuss their new stop-motion animation entitled Gravity, featuring an original score, written and recorded in Sheffield.

In July, ahead of the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, Jo will be in conversation with long-term collaborator, freelance curator Gilly Fox, to discuss her body of work inspired by Japan and the reasons why this country has captured her imagination for so many years.

In August, Jo welcomes AKME, a peergroup of female artists in the city seeking to support each other and in doing so level the playing field for female and male artists.

As the seasons change in September, Jo will be joined by microbiologist Professor Duncan Cameron to discuss their collaboration for Sheffield’s 2020 Festival of the Mind, an installation exploring the topic of food sustainability.

To watch the rest of the series, follow @jo_peel on Instagram.