Microgrant Review Sue Taylor

This year, four artists have been awarded a Yorkshire Artspace Microgrant, receiving up to £500 to develop their practice & increase public access & engagement with their work.

Sue Taylor is one of the recipients of a 2016 Microgrant, which form part of the city-wide Year of Making celebrations aiming to promote Sheffield as a city of makers.

Sue was here in the atrium of Persistence Works during Open Studios weekend displaying her work and the work she had commissioned during this project. We asked her for a few words about the process that culminated in the exhibition:

Working collaboratively with three other artists from YAS was a very rewarding experience and I learned a lot about the different ways of working, but there were also lots of similarities with all our work. They were all very encouraging and interested in the outcome. I felt that the final exhibition was a great success and generated a great deal of interest from visitors to Open Studios. Using a visual language to tell a forgotten story helped to make this accessible to a wider audience.

Discussions with Museums Sheffield about the project was a very new experience for me and I am donating the silver napkin ring, which I commissioned from Charlotte Tollyfield and one of the screen printed napkins to them, together with a leaflet giving information about the Howard Street Club. This will form an archive in the permanent collection, which will ensure that this small but relevant part of Sheffield’s history will be saved for future generations.

I also gave one of the ‘Lunchtime Talks’ at the Millennium Gallery, about the Howard Street Club. The audience were very interested in this unknown part of Sheffield’s history, and the way that art and making connected with the subject. This was an alternative solution to the original idea of a ‘bring and share’ picnic. Following discussions with Rosie Eagleton, events curator from Museums Sheffield, a lunchtime talk was proposed as it covered both the intent to involve the general public and as it was a lunchtime talk, the audience were invited to bring along their packed lunch. This worked very well. Several people mentioned the possibility of inviting me to talk to their local history groups, especially those concerning the history of women in Sheffield’s industries.

I had leaflets printed, which were an invaluable asset, as they could be given to the visitors, many of whom took the leaflet away and then came back for a second look at the work and often spent time talking with me about it. I had lots of positive feedback.

Visitors to the exhibition were happy to write on a white tablecloth, which was part of the installation. I provided washable felt pens and asked people to write what they thought may have been served and eaten at the Howard Street Club. Children also joined in, and many of them were really interested in this forgotten world, and strange (to them) foods. In retrospect I wish I had chosen just one colour of felt pen – say red to echo the napkins, as the multi colours looked a little garish, but I intend to trace over the writing and then embroider into it. This will give a contemporary twist to the story.