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An amazing year of Sheffield's visual arts

Now Then Then Now artwork on the side of building in Sheffield

2020 has been difficult for everyone, and you might question whether there has been any good news at all… But there has! In the season of good cheer, we're sharing some of this year’s good news stories from Sheffield-based visual artists and arts organisations. Season’s Greetings!


Sheffield Street Art

Whilst galleries were closed, new street art appearing across the city allowed audiences the chance to still take in some art…

Sheffield's Keith Hayman Public Art Awards 2019

Rob Lee and Kelham Island Arts & Cultural Heritage Trail were joint winners of the Keith Hayman Award for public art. Named in memory of Keith Hayman, a keen artist and Sheffield Civic Trust (SCT) Trustee, the award is presented to the artist judged to have contributed most to the enhancement of Sheffield’s public realm in the year preceding the award.

Rob Lee's Now Then Then Now, painted on the side of a row of terraces on Howard Street, was commissioned for the 10th anniversary of Now Then magazine, while the mini-mural trail was curated by Kelham Island & Neepsend Community Alliance and painted by Kelham Island Arts Collective, who created pictures on GPO exchange boxes around the neighbourhood.

Living Art – Jo Peel – Yorkshire Artspace

Living street art by artist Jo Peel and horticulturist Nigel Dunnett was commissioned for the façade of Yorkshire Artspace’s Persistence Works. This work combines Jo’s distinctive illustrations with beautiful living greenery.

BOUNCE! – Florence Blanchard – Site Gallery

Site Square (the Square previously known as Pinball Park) has been transformed into a vibrant, playful focal point for the Cultural Industries Quarter by Sheffield based artist Florence Blanchard’s new work BOUNCE! Check it out on Brown Street opposite Site Gallery. Florence is known internationally for her signature style of flowing, amorphous shapes in bright colours.

Will Rea - Orchard Square – LAP / Creative Guild

Marking the Creative Guild’s move into Orchard Square, Will Rea’s commission covers over 15 metres of the upper terrace of Orchard Square. Will, a recent graduate and Sheffield based illustrator working with both digital and traditional mediums, managed to complete the work just before lockdown.


One to watch

Joanna Whittle

Congratulations to Joanna Whittle, who really has had the most amazing year.

In 2019, Joanna had already had a year that was pretty hard to beat – she’d won the biennial Harley Open Art Prize, leading to ‘Between Islands’, an exhibition at the Harley Gallery, which somehow managed open between lockdowns in summer 2020. She also successfully applied for an Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice Award. She was selected and sold work at the Royal Academy Summer Show before rounded 2019 off by securing a place on Platform 2020, the Freelands’ Artist Programme, hosted by Site Gallery, which offers two years and up to £20,000 in support and funding.

Not bad, but that’s not all… Joanna’s success continued into 2020. This year she was awarded the British Contemporary Painting Prize of £2,000, which celebrates the best of contemporary painting produced in the UK, leading to an exhibition in Huddersfield which toured to London. And her work Sorrowing Cloth won the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award at the opening of the prestigious New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. The open exhibition, which can be seen at the Scarborough Gallery until 17 January 2021 before moving to Carlisle, Newcastle and London, aims to shine a light on Northern Art.


Museums Sheffield News

Funding for Graves Gallery

Museums Sheffield have announced a new forthcoming programme of improvements and redisplay at the Graves Gallery, made possible through a generous five-year funding grant from the Ampersand Foundation. The Gallery will undergo an initial six-month period of refurbishment and redisplay before reopening in late spring 2021.

Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Industrial Museums merger

From April 1st 2021, a new unified charitable trust will be responsible for operating Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Kelham Island Museum, Shepherd Wheel, Graves Art Gallery, Millennium Gallery and Weston Park Museum.

Acquisition of Phlegm’s Pandemic Diary

Pandemic Diary, 2020 by Phlegm has been acquisitioned for Museums Sheffield with support from the Contemporary Art Society’s Rapid Response Fund. The work includes 67 unique drawings and one engraving created during lockdown, illustrating the artist’s own experience and observations with sensitivity and humour. It is hoped that these will be exhibited in 2021.



Mausoleum of the Giants Book by Phlegm

Phlegm has just announced the long-awaited book about his art installation Mausoleum of the Giants, which took place in Sheffield in 2019. The book features photographs by Chris Saunders and will be available from Phlegm's online shop and Museums Sheffield shops at Millennium Gallery and Weston Park.

Paradise is Here: New community engagement handbook

Paradise is Here: Building Community Around Things that Matter is a new community engagement handbook by Ruth Nutter which published by the Guild of St George on 5th November. It offers practical guidance for arts, heritage and community practitioners, sharing stories, principles and practice based on the awardwinning Ruskin in Sheffield programme. The book will be on sale at the Millennium Gallery, Weston Park Museum, La Bibioloteka (Kommune) and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and online.



In the past twelve months, Sheffield has seen three new galleries opening, two arts organisations moving to new spaces, and one relocating to the city from London, reflecting both the resilience and determination of arts organisations and artists in the city.

Art Catalyst relocate to Sheffield

2020 saw Arts Catalyst relocate to Sheffield from their former home in King’s Cross. They are currently developing plans to open a new space, which will provide office, exhibition and studio spaces and appointed Sheffield based curator Laura Clarke to deliver a new strand of programming.

Arts Catalyst is an Arts Council funded National Portfolio Organisation who programme exhibitions, events, residencies, performances and publications, often working in collaboration with national and international partner organisations from the fields of art, science and academia.

A new home for Sheffield Creative Guild

In March, Sheffield Creative Guild officially opened the doors to its new home ‘The Workshop’, in Orchard Square. This new space gives them room to host their events and workshops under one roof and offer exhibition and event space for Guild members and others. The Guild launched in 2016 to enhance the visibility, resilience and sustainability of the region’s creative communities, and now has over 800 members.

Gloam is back

GLOAM Gallery have had a busy year. They crowdfunded a move from Mary Street to their current building on Arundel Street; undertaking building works to develop a new collectively run studios and exhibition space. Alongside this they are putting together a programme of events, exhibitions, performances and workshops developed in collaboration with DIY spaces and community organisations in and around South Yorkshire.

New Gallery Spaces open Autumn 2020

Artcade Gallery is one of Sheffield’s newest artspaces, opening in September. It is based in the Forum on Devonshire Street and is all about platforming Sheffield's contemporary artists, offering them space to create, show and sell their work in a programme of solo exhibitions. Twelve local artists will work in the space over twelve months, experimenting and expanding their output, and each creating an original exhibition. All artwork is for sale – from original paintings and drawings to prints and reproductions.


After curating exhibitions by Sheffield artists for a number of years in different spaces in Sheffield, Fronteer finally achieved the dream of opening their own space in October. Fronteer Gallery is situated in the Castlegate area of Sheffield, near Exchange Place Studios. In this short time, the Gallery has already hosted two exhibitions in both the space and online, supporting over 100 artists. They are now running open call applications for exhibitions and a book for 2021.


Congratulations to…

Rachael Colley awarded with the Grand Prix at 2019 ITAMI International Craft Exhibition Rachael, senior lecturer in Jewellery & Metalwork at Sheffield Hallam University, was awarded the grand prize for her series Sha-green.

Kedisha Coakley wins the YSP Yorkshire Graduate Award Sheffield Hallam University Fine Art graduate Kedisha Coakley is the recipient of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Yorkshire Graduate Award 2020. The award includes residency at the Park; access to facilities including metal and wood workshops and studio space; a budget for materials for the development of new ideas.

Platform 2021, Rachael Colley, Jan Hopkins, Seiko Kinoshita , Lea Torp Nielsen and Anisa Nuh-Ali - the new Cohort of Platform Artists. Following an open call for applicants this summer, five Sheffield-based artists have been selected for a two-year paid residency as part of Platform. Each artist will receive over £20,000 worth of investment including a fee, specialist support, professional development and opportunities to exhibit. 

Mandy Payne’s painting ‘Remnants of a Welfare State’ has been selected for the 2020 John Moores Painting Prize 2020, which brings together the best in contemporary British painting right now. The competition will culminate in an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on when winners will be announced.

Ashley Holmes who, along with Breakwater & Cường Phạm, Kaajal Modi and Yussef Agbo-Ola, was also selected for a new residency programme as part of Radio Arts Catalyst, supporting earlycareer artists and practitioners to expand their practices into sound and broadcasting. James Clarkson was also selected to take part in the Syllabus VI Programme - a learning programme for artists over a ten month period, alongside nine artists from across the UK and Europe. Ashley and James were also two of 40 artists awarded grants from the Henry Moore Foundation artist’s support amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paul Barlow selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2020 Paul Barlow was one of 36 artists selected for this year’s New Contemporaries. Paul was born in Sheffield and studied at Sheffield Hallam University and the Royal Academy in London. He was part of Everything Flows an exhibition at Millennium Gallery in 2018 which was supported by Making Ways.

7 Sheffield artists supported by the Sculpture Network 2020 - Sculpture Network 2020 was been launched by Yorkshire Sculpture International to support artists and the development of their practice over a duration of four months. Congratulations to Sheffield artists who have selected for this scheme - Christopher Jarratt, Hannah Lamb, James Clarkson, Kate Langrish-Smith, Lucy Lound, Sian Williams and Victoria Lucas.

Sharna Jackson - Site Gallery’s Artistic Director triumphed in the Younger Fiction category of this year's Waterstones Children's Book Prize with her book High Rise Mystery.