Janet Murray takes us on a tour of Sheffield’s best galleries, exhibitions, and museums

By October 17, 2015



Sheffield is brimming with art and opportunity. Empty shops are used as display cabinets, murals cover the insides and outsides of buildings, historic buildings such as the old cutlery manufacturers Portland Works have become home to artists and craftspeople. All year round there are festivals and fairs celebrating the thriving contemporary and historical art scene in Sheffield. Here are some of the galleries and museums in our city.

The Sheffield Museums Trust Graves Gallery exhibits visual art from the City of Sheffield’s Collection which majors on twentieth century art, including paintings by David Bomberg, Stanley Spencer, and Frank Auerbach. It is on the top floor of the Central Library, which was opened in 1934 and was dedicated to the service of knowledge and art. This third floor is a vantage point for Northern light. The gallery is part of the city-wide initiative called Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield, and is showing works from the Marzona Collection focussing on the art of Marcel Duchamp and his relationship to Dadaism and Surrealism. Another exhibition showing there at the moment is A Tale of Two artists: Sickert and Lessore. The gallery is shut on Sunday and Monday.

The Sheffield Museums Trust Millennium Gallery is the city’s main modern gallery and walkway. It is also part of the Going Public exhibition. The work on display is from the Cattelain Collection featuring minimal and conceptual art. Another exhibition currently showing is Steel City: City on the Move in which artist Jo Peel explores parallels between Sheffield and Pittsburg through paintings, prints, drawings, and film.

The Metalwork Gallery is part of the Millennium Gallery and has recently been refurbished. It has the most wonderful display of spoons you are ever likely to see in one lifetime, nicely complemented by a simple but outstanding, painting by William Roberts of The Buffer Girls.

The Ruskin Gallery is also part of the Millennium site, reflecting John Ruskin’s close relationship with Sheffield and displays some of his drawings, but also work which reflects nature generally. All these galleries run off the Millennium walkway which runs from Arundel Gate, through the Winter Gardens, and is a good shortcut to Surrey Street and the Graves Gallery.

Sheffield Museums Trust Weston Park Museum, just out of the city centre in the University quarter, is in the process of hanging Victorian paintings from the city’s collection.

Bishops’ House is one of the best surviving examples of a timber-framed house. It was built c1500 and is open to the public each Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 4pm, located at the top of Meersbrook Park. In April 2011 a voluntary organisation, Friends of Bishops’ House, took over management of public opening of the house on behalf of Sheffield City Council who continue to maintain the building.

Alongside the city’s main galleries are a number of contemporary galleries, some private, some independent, mostly relying on funding from the Arts Council. These galleries reflect a city which contains the largest number of practicing artists outside of London:

Site Gallery is the largest of these and forms a hub for some of the smaller galleries. As part of Going Public they are displaying some of the dslcollection (Dominique and Sylvian Levy) primarily by prominent contemporary Chinese artists.

Bloc, which also has studios on site, is an old steel-making building and nicely combines the old industrial heritage with the contemporary.

155 John St, is a terraced house where the artist lives in residence and has space to display work.

S1 Artspace on Trafalgar St (off Division St) has contemporary exhibitions and studio spaces for 20 artists.

Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery (SIA) showcases work by Sheffield practicing artists and visiting artists. It is on the ground floor of the Cantor building on Arundel Street and is run by Sheffield Hallam University. It offers a programme of changing exhibitions, and is currently showing more of the dslcollection as part of Going Public.

There is gallery space at Parkhill, site of a listed Sheffield public housing estate from the sixties.

Bank St Arts is an interesting integration of writing and visual art. There is a rolling programme of innovative artwork. It is also home to The Poetry Business who run regular poetry workshops and a nationally recognised poetry magazine called North.

Cupola Gallery, Bessemer 11, and Porter Brook Gallery on Middlewood Rd, Ecclesall Rd, and Hickmott Rd respectively are good private galleries. Cupola is well established and an outlet for local artists.

Solo Gallery and A Month of Sundays on Sharrow Vale Rd are small private galleries. The latter is a showcase for local artist Pete Mckee.

Chatsworth, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, just over the border in Derbyshire has a growing collection of art in the house and is currently displaying sculpture in the gardens as part of the Beyond Limits: The Landscape of British Sculpture 1950-2015 exhibition, which includes sculptures by Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Anthony Caro and Barbara Hepworth. The juxtaposition of 18th century gardens and modern sculpture in Autumn light is breathtaking. The exhibition takes place in partnership with Sothebys.

The Cathedral is currently part of the Going Public exhibition in Sheffield

The contemporary artworks are placed in dialogue with sacred space and this is a very effective interaction. Other galleries in partnership with this ambitious venture are Graves Gallery, Millennium Gallery, SIA gallery, and Site gallery.