Verse Matters hosts first open mic of 2018

Sheffield’s best spoken word artists, musicians and poets will perform at Theatre Delicatessen on Thursday 11th January, for the first Verse Matters event of the year.

Verse Matters is a feminist arts collective which hosts bi-monthly events to showcase the brightest spoken word artists, musicians, comics and storytellers in Sheffield.Both regulars and newcomers are invited to share their performances to an appreciative crowd.

Spoken word artists Anna May Fox and Sarah Crutwell will perform on Thursday, as well as musician ADENICO and Hive Young Writers.

For more information, go to


Copyright Verse Matters

Applications for the 2017/2018 New Poets Prize are open

Sheffield based publisher, The Poetry Business, offers young poets a chance to have their manuscripts published into their own book.

The New Poets Prize is a competition led by The Poetry Business, an independent poetry publisher in Sheffield, which invites 17-24 year olds to submit short collections of twelve pages of poems. Four winners will be selected for the chance to have their collection published by smith|doorstop books, The North magazine and perform a launch reading, hosted by The Poetry Business. Successful candidates will also receive mentoring by British poets Peter and Ann Samson to help with submitting work to magazines, competitions and other publications.

Applications will close on Thursday 1st March, 2018.

The competition will be judged by Kayo Chingonyi, a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and previous Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Directors of The Poetry Business, Peter and Ann Samson will also be on the judging panel.

For the chance to be a published poet, enter at



Sheffield artist Jo Peel isn’t only interested in cityscapes

Jo Peel is the epitome of the urban artist. Her cityscapes have decorated walls, restaurants and galleries around the world, redefining what has traditionally been known as a beautiful landscape. But it was Sheffield that sparked this fascination with urban environments and in her interview with Sheff Culture, she tells us how this began and where it has led her.

Copyright Jo Peel

One of Sheffield’s most impressive home-grown artists, Jo Peel has worked all over the world, from London to Tokyo, Pittsburgh and Poland but she remains drawn to the steel city. “Sheffield was a great city to grow up in. It’s probably why after being away for so long that I have migrated back. It’s got a real sense of community and is small enough to get around mainly on foot, but it is also big enough to surprise you. And the Peaks of course, I love the openness of the hills so close to the city.”

Peel’s work has been exhibited in galleries across Sheffield and she continues to be inspired by its industrial surroundings: “I think Sheffield was a huge influence on my work and I didn’t really realise until I moved back. The people of Sheffield are deeply connected to their environment and there is a strong sense of identity. When I worked on my solo show at the Millennium Gallery, this was the influence for that work. Comparing Sheffield with Pittsburgh in the USA to see how a connection to the roots of a steel city feed into the current environment and the people.”

Copyright Jo Peel

Although Peel has visited so many other industrial landscapes, it is clear that she has a particular affinity with Sheffield. After spending her youth here, she studied in Cornwall and resided in London for a while until finally resettling in the South Yorkshire city.

“Growing up, the industrial past always seemed so relevant and so close. There was this real sense of community and an understanding of what it meant to be from Sheffield. When I moved away I was surprised that this strength of identity wasn’t shared so strongly by other towns and cities within the UK.”

Capturing the identity of a city seems almost instinctive for Peel, a quality her artwork reflects, “I think that buildings can take on character and a humanity. When I draw and paint I try to understand the small elements that make up the bigger picture and make a place unique.”

Peel’s art is easily identifiable, featuring cityscapes of cranes, factories and building sites- subjects in contrast to more traditional landscape painters, she admits “I’ve never been interested in painting natural landscapes up to this point as I just feel like the beauty is already there. There are artists who are able to evoke this beauty on canvas or in photography, but for me I just don’t feel like there is anything to explore artistically. When I am in the city it’s like my mind becomes alive and I just want to capture moments and tell stories.”

Not only is Peel’s work recognisable for its unique subject matter but also for her individual colour palette. Black and white outlines are often splashed with bright blue and orange to transform a grey industrial backdrop into an urban Eden.

Copyright Jo Peel

“I didn’t deliberately choose the colours, but they sort of found their way in through a process of elimination. I used to use a lot more colours but I realised that when painting buildings onto buildings, a paired back colour scheme works better, as more colour and texture can just get lost amidst the environment. Black and white line work mirrors my pen drawings on paper. Blue seemed like an obvious choice due to the lines of the sky and then orange has slowly crept back in. The luminous orange is so prevalent on building sites and on traffic signals so I think I was always drawn to it for this reason.”

With the end of the year approaching, Peel has been extremely busy but 2018 isn’t looking any calmer. “In January and February I’m off to Cambodia to paint some murals. In March I have a few projects lined up in London and Amsterdam and I’m working towards an Amsterdam based exhibition with Mark McClure as well as a large scale mural in London.”

Copyright Jo Peel

Peel has also “been interested in making a show comparing manufactured cities in different countries around the world (Brasilia in Brazil, Dubai) to see how culture and ideologies affect the place and how humans deconstruct what was meant to be perfect.”

As the influence that humans have on their environment becomes more and more important, it is interesting to hear the perspective of someone who works so closely with the man-made environment. Of the conflict between preserving the world’s natural environment and expanding our cities to accommodate for ever increasing population growth Peel explains, “ultimately if we continue at this rate there won’t be enough resources. I’ve already seen this happening in places like Bali, where there just isn’t enough electricity and water to go around due to the demand and cooler climate in the form of air conditioning as well as an influx of people demanding fresh water and resources.”

“I think we need to maintain and respect our environment, but the system needs to change and so does education. By creating change on a micro level we can influence things but it has to be a group effort and we might just not have enough time.”

From Sheffield to Bali, Peel has clearly been influenced by both land and cityscapes and, even as an urban artist, realises the importance of maintaining natural as well as man-made environments.

Crucible’s Rent Party is far more than music and shots

Jason Guest in Rent Party. Photography by Sam Taylor.

As the cast sang a gentle rendition of ‘I need a dollar’ and handed out £80 worth of party vouchers, for the audience to award to their favourite performers for their rent, the fierce yet sensitive mood of the night was set.

Director, Darren Pritchard, and writer, Cheryl Martin, flawlessly achieved their goal of bringing a 1920s Harlem rent party to the UK in 2017. With brazen mention of child poverty, food banks, benefits and universal credit, the performance was a true reflection of what it is like for some people, particularly black and gay people, to live and rent in 21st century Britain.

Whilst a sassy sound track of songs like ‘cranes in the sky’ played in the background, each performer confided in the audience to reveal some of the trials they have faced as young, ambitious individuals in an austere society. Kamille Gordon showed us what hard work really entails as she proudly played us a video of her son and spoke about her employment with Asda on top her commitment to performing- to support him. Jason Guest, who has a voice more angelic than Chris Brown, shared his deeply personal and equally chilling account of his experience of being in an abusive relationship.

Lenai Russell in Rent Party. Photography by Sam Taylor.

Even with a slightly serious undertone, the party atmosphere prevailed as the actors handed out shots to the audience and Kamille and Lenai entertained us with a dance off Queen B would be proud of. Stuart Bowden shamelessly sassed his way through the performance, leading a game of pass the parcel and a politically fuelled limbo.

The show wasn’t just a retelling of stories by 5 performers, the show was the 5 performers. Strong, fearless, talented performers whose stories need to be heard.

Grab your tickets while you can. Rent Party shows at the Crucible until 23 December.

Dan Holdsworth: Mapping the Limits of Space

Saturday 16 December 2017 – Saturday 16 March 2018

The latest work by artist Dan Holdsworth will make its UK debut as part of a new solo exhibition opening at Sheffield’s Graves Gallery this December. Charting Holdsworth’s explorations of the relationship between landscape photography, science and technology, Mapping the Limits of Space will present the artist’s most recent series, Continuous Topography, alongside key works from the last 7 years.

Continuous Topography (2016) is a remarkable reimaging of the glaciers of the Mont Blanc Massif in the Chamonix Valley, France.

 © Dan Holdsworth

The series is the result of painstaking fieldwork which saw Holdsworth collaborate with a research geologist to capture hundreds of photographic images. These images were subsequently processed through GPS technology and sophisticated software to create a unique 3D model of the landscape, with every contour mapped in seemingly impossible detail. The works, which Holdsworth calls a form of “future archaeology”, place the landscape in the context of the geological ages through which it has developed and will ultimately degrade.

Through his use of digital mapping data, Holdsworth has expanded the photographic process in order to develop a new aesthetic language that explores the changing nature of human perception in relation to that of our evolving science and technologies. Whilst embracing the latest technological developments, Holdsworth’s work also openly refers to the history and tradition of landscape photography.

© Dan Holdsworth.

Continuous Topography will go on show alongside a range of recent works which investigate this interface between traditional and digital processes, and the geological and technological world,
including Blackout (2010), Forms FTP (2013), Spatial Objects (2015), and Transmission: New Remote Earth Views (2012).

Kirstie Hamilton, Head of Exhibitions and Displays, at Museums Sheffield said:
“Dan Holdsworth creates his work through an incredible amount of research, thought and skill. The way in which his process pushes the boundaries of photographic practice resonates powerfully with the issues that his work challenges the viewer to consider.  Ultimately, his work makes us reflect on the vastness of the natural landscape, our place within in it, and the impact we have on it. His interest in the ideas of John Ruskin and Sheffield’s location adjacent to the Peak National Park makes showing Dan’s at the Graves Gallery  all the more relevant. ”

Dan Holdsworth’s work has been featured in international solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Tate (London).

Dan Holdsworth: Mapping the Limits of Space opens at the Graves Gallery on Saturday 16 December and continues until Saturday 16 March 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship

Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, an exhibition at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery, is set to explore the influence of Eric Ravilious and his circle, and their impact on British visual culture during the 1930s.


Eric R

Eric Ravilious, 74 Cross to Airmen, 1933. Wood Lea Press.


Based on new research, Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship shines a spotlight on the work of Ravilious and his personal and professional relationships with artists including Paul Nash, John Nash, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Tirzah Garwood, Edward Bawden, Thomas Hennell, Douglas Percy Bliss, Peggy Angus, Helen Binyon and Diana Low.

Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship brings together over 400 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, engravings, books ceramics, wallpapers and textiles created during the interwar years. The exhibition highlights key moments in the artists’ lives and work, from first meeting at the Royal College of Art to the evolution of their artistic practices into commercial and industrial design during the turbulent times of the 1930s and 1940s.

Imbued with a tangible sense of time and place, Ravilious’ watercolours and wood engravings offer a unique portrait of England as the first half of the 20th century began to draw to a close. This major exhibition celebrates the creativity of Ravilious and that of his closest friends. It brings to life the significant relationships and collaborations within one of the most widely influential – though largely unexplored – networks of English artist designers of the twentieth century to tell a remarkable story of creative achievement, joy, and ultimately, tragedy.

Marking the 75th anniversary of the Ravilious’ tragic death in Iceland during the Second World War, the exhibition has been curated by Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne and Andy Friend, author of a new biography, Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, published earlier this year by Thames & Hudson.

Andy said, “we are truly fortunate that the generosity of over seventy public and private lenders has allowed us to fully explore the versatility and vitality of this fascinating group of artist designers.  Many items have not been seen since the 1930s and it is particularly exciting to be able to show striking work by hitherto lesser known women artists alongside a wealth of better known works by Ravilious, Bawden and the Nash brothers.”

Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship at the Millennium Gallery continues until 7 January 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free.



Small Stories: At Home in a Doll’s House

Copyright of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Copyright of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Weston Park Museum hosts ‘Small Stories: At Home in a Doll’s House’, an exhibition which takes visitors on a journey through the history of the home through 12 intricately crafted doll houses spanning over 300 years.

On tour from the V&A Museum of Childhood, the exhibition sees country mansions, suburban villas, newly-built council estates and high-rise apartments tell the tales of marriages, parties, politics and crime, as each house is brought to life by the characters that live and work there.

The houses show developments in architecture and design, from ornate Georgian townhouses to contemporary urban living spaces. Each house is displayed in interactive showcases that allow visitors to activate audio narration and illuminate characters as they share their story.

Kirstie Hamilton, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Museums Sheffield, said “we’re delighted to continue our partnership with the V&A with this exhibition. Small Stories offers a unique window on how we used to live through these wonderful examples of meticulous craftsmanship, some of the stars of the V&A Museum of Childhood’s collection. We’re thrilled to be able to bring the exhibition to Sheffield to share with our visitors at Weston Park Museum.”

The V&A Museum of Childhood’s collections will be complemented by a dolls’ house from Sheffield’s own collection dating from around 1900, on show in the museum’s main thoroughfare. The house was made for a little girl called Dorothy. When she was young she pronounced her own name as “Dophy”, and called the house ‘Dophy Villa’. The house has working electric lights and was decorated with contemporary wallpaper and flooring.

Other highlights of the exhibition include 19030s hedonistic haven, a home prepared for WW2 and a modern, millennial house:

Whiteladies House was designed and by artist Moray Thomas in the 1930 and reflects some of the Modernist country villas that were emerging at the time. Features include chrome furniture, a cocktail bar and artworks by British Futurist Claude Flight, as well as a swimming pool. Its story centres on a house party, with revellers enjoying the pool and sunbathing on the roof.

The Hopkinson House is based on the houses in 1930s suburbs. The interiors show a Second World War-era family in intricate detail, poised for an air-raid, with miniature gasmasks, ration books and torches for the blackouts.

Kaleidoscope House (2011) was house was designed by Laurie Simmons. Its multi-coloured translucent walls are filled with miniature replicas of furniture and artworks by Ron Arad, Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger. The house is home to a design conscious step-family living in the new millennium.

The exhibition is open to the public until 7th January and entrance is free.