The changing face of the cityPosted by: Richard Abbey
John Darwell. Atterclife 1987 © the artist
Opening on Friday 23 October, The Sheffield Project: Photographs of a Changing City will bring together images by acclaimed, socially-engaged photographers including John Davies, Anna Fox, John Kippin and more.
In the late 1980s and 90s Sheffield reached a pivotal moment in its history, one which saw it begin a journey of regeneration and transformation into the city we know today.
The first steps on that journey were documented by a group of gifted photographers whose work reflected both the hope and hard realities of the time. Today, as major developments in the city see its landscape continuing to evolve, a new exhibition at Weston Park Museum re-presents those original photographs to chronicle a significant turning point for Sheffield and its people.
For many people in Sheffield the last decades of the 20th century were a time of great upheaval and hardship; the aftermath of the Miners’ Strike was still being felt, the steel industry’s workforce had been decimated, and mass unemployment and dereliction were widespread. But it was also a time in which the city began to imagine its future, one that would include the Meadowhall retail development, the transformation of the lower Don Valley, and the state-of-the-art facilities created to host the World Student Games.
Recognising the significance of the time, Sheffield’s Untitled Gallery, now Site Gallery, engaged a series of emerging local and nationally-based photographers for The Sheffield Project, an ambitious visual survey which sought to document the changes happening across the city. The works that were created were shown in a series of exhibitions at Untitled Gallery’s original home in Walkley and at the new premises on Brown Street, where Site Gallery is still based today. This new exhibition at Weston Park Museum, curated by Matthew Conduit, director of Untitled Gallery 1985-88 and initiator of The Sheffield Project, revisits this remarkable collection of images to offer a window into a unique moment in the city’s past.
The Sheffield Project: Photographs of a Changing City features work by Mike Black, Matthew Conduit, Berris Conolly, John Darwell, John Davies, Anna Fox, Graham Gaunt, John Kippin, Kate Mellor, Ken Phillip, Tim Smith, Bill Stephenson, Ian Stewart, Patrick Sutherland and Adrian Wynn.
The compelling photographs these artists and photographers created captured the often complex nature of change. Subjects depicted span the steelworks’ furnaces firing for the final time, abandoned buildings soon to be demolished, and depictions of the changes to ways of life that the regeneration bought for the communities on its doorstep. The photographs also reflect the hope in this new vision for the future and the energy of the World Student Games and legacy it sought to leave behind.
The Sheffield Project: Photographs of a Changing City opens on Friday 23 October 2020 and continues until 3 May 2021 – entry to the exhibition is free, but pre-booked visits to the museum are advised to avoid disappointment.
Full details on how to book a free visit and information on all the measures in place to keep everyone safe in the museum can be found at museums-sheffield.org.uk/visiting-weston-park.
Home page image: John Davies, Durham Ox, Sheffield 1981 © the artistv bb