Words by Peter Watts
Posted on 30/10/2019
A brilliant piece of well-executed street art by a talented artist will improve everybody’s experiences of an urban space, particularly on canals, where walls and bridges are prone to antisocial tagging. With that in mind, Canal & River Trust in Sheffield has hooked up with community groups and Concrete Canvas, a local street art collective, to bring some colour and dynamism to the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal.
A series of artworks have been commissioned by local artists with the support of local landowners and it’s hoped that these will provide a new reason for people to visit the canal. The project, supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery, saw more than a dozen artists take their spray paints and imaginations to the canal during the recent Sheffield Waterfront Festival 2019. The first phase of a street art trail along the canal has now been established: we’ve picked out some of the highlights for a street art walk that ends at a local art gallery.
Start at the eastern end of the canal at Tinsley Marina where you will be greeted by a series of colourful artworks asking visitors to avoid littering, respect the canal and enjoy their walk.
Mila K & Color
Follow the canal under the Broughton Lane and Darnall Road bridges until you reach the Shirland Lane bridge, where artists Mila K and Color have created a Native American inspired piece.
Attercliffe Wall Mural
A vast mural on Staniforth Road by well-known local artist Jo Peel depicts local buildings like the Wentworth pub and Sheffield Forgemasters in Peel’s distinctively meticulous style.
The wall between Bacon Lane Bridge and Staniforth Road was the site of a mass painting session during Sheffield Waterfront Festival, with more than a dozen local artists creating a series of different pieces.
These recently introduced apples near Bernard Road Bridge mark the site of a community orchard.
Snails & Fish
Two drawings by Affix under the railway bridge, both commissioned by Canal & River Trust and focussing on nature in the form of a fish and a pair of oversized snails.
On a building overlooking the canal is a mural celebrating Sheffield’s industry, two football clubs, and the Arctic Monkeys.
A new commission by SAYiT, a local LBGT+ community group, and Canal & River Trust, this abstract piece features a rainbow galaxy and the Tinsley Towers, a local landmark that was demolished in 2008.
Another Trust-commissioned artwork by Affix, this picture of a raven contains a passage of Joseph Mather’s poem about local highwayman Spencer Broughton, whose body hung in a gibbet on Attercliffe Common.
Two beautiful white horses by Affix at Victoria Quays canal basin were created to mark the bicentenary of the canal. The Trust will place further artworks along the canal in additional phases of the project.
Your walk doesn’t have to stop at the basin. Walk into Sheffield city centre from the canal and you will see numerous pieces of modern street art but also some that date back even further, such as this 1980s council-funded mural on Castle Street depicting a local steelworker.
Is the river really beautiful?
Head south and on the corner of Pond Hill and Sheaf Street you can see this waterside stencil asking: Is the river really beautiful or is it the gradient of the land?
Make your way to the Site Gallery, a recently refurbished contemporary art space that specialises in new media, performance and moving image. Adorned with a mural by Paul Morrison it is as good a place as any to end your walk through Sheffield’s street art scene.
Illustration by Alan Baker