An Open Ground

09 - 21 September

Free & open to all


An Open Ground is an exhibition and wider research project that looks at issues surrounding historical storytelling, inner city gentrification and the complex issues surrounding heritage and rapid development.

Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, An Open Ground is a multi faceted project, working with researchers, artists, local business owners, previous occupants and members of the public to develop a greater understanding of the unique area surrounding Bloc Projects.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a new commission by artist Peter Martin. Martin’s new film combines static and panoramic shots of the area, providing a unique picture of the postindustrial landscape, which is synonymous with the city of Sheffield. In addition to this, Martin has also spend time capturing the stories of local businesses, art galleries, recording studios and new residents of the area, capturing a snapshot portrait of one of the few remaining city centre districts yet to succumb to mass re-development.

Alongside Martin’s film, a series of photographic works occupy the gallery space. Selected from a large series of images taken during a workshop lead by photographer and storyteller, Joanne Coates, these works tell of a unique story of the area through the viewpoint of the lens. All of the images were taken by an enthusiastic group of young photographers, keen to develop their skills with the camera.

During the months preceding the exhibition, researcher and historian, Laura Alston, spent time finding out about the unique history of the area, working closely with Sheffield Archives and other online sources. Alston has produced a piece of text telling the stories of the previous inhabitants, including tales of industry, personal accounts of the area and even uncovering the site of a circus dating back to the late 1800’s. For the exhibition, Alston has recorded a recital of the text that visitors can listen to through the headphones provided.

One of the main aims of An Open Ground is to encourage visitors to explore the area itself. This is why we have commissioned historian and professional Sheffielder, Ron Clayton, to run a series of special tours of the area, looking at hidden stories and less known tales drawing from his unparalleled local knowledge.

To accompany the tours we have commissioned Sheffield based design collective Dust to produce a new work for the Bloc Billboard on Sylvestor Street. The billboard tells of hidden tales and the layering of the area, through the building and re building of businesses and organisations throughout its long history. The billboard itself is designed to be overlaid with new posters throughout the duration of An Open Ground. As an extension of the billboard, Dust are also producing posters that can be seen at several spots surrounding Bloc Projects, and that tell of lost stories and local tales.


The final element of An Open Ground looks at the way in which we document the project as a whole. As an extension of the billboard, we have commissioned Dust to create a brand new website to host the documentation and research material produced for the project. The website will be launched following the closure of the exhibition. To view the website click below.

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Peter Martin (born. 1986, Liverpool) lives and works in Sheffield. Recent exhibitions include: Self Service, Biggins Brothers, Sheffield (2016) (solo); So, What do you do exactly?, Slam Projects, London (2016); The Listening Booth 2, Online (2016); Reciprocal Relations, Bloc Projects (2016); One Minute, Volume 8, ASC, Liverpool (2016); One Minute, Volume 8, Berlin (2016); I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, S1 Artspace, Sheffield (2015). Projects include: Visions Of The Future, Sheffield (2016); The Inventory, Abandon Normal Devices, Manchester (2012) and The Kinetic Trader, Headingly, Sheffield, Barnsley (2012)