Starting in 2019 as part of the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal 200th anniversary celebrations, street art was brought to the waterways in a spectacular fashion.
Sheffield was used as a trial for the street art project, and thanks to Affix, a local artist we've been working with, he’s painted pieces for us at Victoria Quays and under the railway bridge near Cadman Street.
Funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery gave us the opportunity to commission a local arts collective, Concrete Canvas, who brought together the artists and planned the creation of the pieces. They teamed up with Jade Wilkes from our regional team, who meets community groups and discovers how we can work with them.
During the city’s annual Waterfront Festival, we had 13 street artists painting at Attercliffe, covering a long wall facing the canal. Walkers, cyclists and boaters stopped to talk to the artists and find out more about their designs.
Affix added to his artwork at the new community orchard space along the towpath. We also worked with local LGBTQ+ group SayIT to produce a mural that can be viewed from the towpath opposite Victoria Boatyard.
Art needs to be publicly accessible. It's not often that people see an artist and can put a face to a painting. When that happens it's a wonderful thing.Affix
Skeg was another artist painting for us on the day, and comments that "The art trail is bringing people to this part of the city, who wouldn’t normally come here. It’s engaging people in arts. Maybe somebody will see what we’ve done and it might spark something in them. All of a sudden you’ve got a new artist."
There are lots more plans for Sheffield to continue creating canalside art. We’re working with disability support groups, youth sports groups, and an Afro-Caribbean community group who are planning a piece of art themed around the arrival of the Windrush generation.
Sadly these plans have had to be put on hold for the time being because of coronavirus restrictions. However, there will be a schools competition later in the year to design a new 2m2 piece of art for a canal-facing wall belonging to local business Special Steel. Teachers have been in touch to let us know that their students are using time at home during lockdown to prepare their entries, so watch this space.
Photos: Sheffield Waterfront festival by Hannah Ali, all others by the street artists and Canal & River Trust staff
Last date edited: 4 March 2021