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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Peter Martin

Peter Martin is an artist and S1 Artspace studio holder. As well as his own video-based art practice, he is involved in a number of projects in Sheffield, which are connected by the desire to do good through creating and sharing great things. With his recent film An Open Ground, Peter explored corner of the city around gallery Bloc Projects within the context of history and the changing urban environment.

What projects or organisations are you affiliated with in Sheffield?
I’ve been part of S1 Artspace since I graduated from Hallam ten years ago and took part in their bursary programme back in 2009. I don’t see myself as affiliated, more as a member of a collective of artists who all support and champion each other's work. Aside from S1, I work in Site Gallery as a producer with the Society of Explorers. They're a really cool collective of 14-19-year-olds who get together once a week and collaborate with artists while also co-designing projects – young people always have the most imagination and the best intentions. I recently worked with Bloc on An Open Ground, a film that looks at the area around Arundel Street from a historical and contemporary perspective. I went round all the local workshops, DIY spaces and cafes, trying to figure out the character of an area that is on the brink of redevelopment.

What's your workspace like?
My studio is in The Scottish Queen up at Park Hill. It’s basically a desk surrounded by exposed concrete walls. It’s not as pretty as some of the other spaces and is probably the least interesting stop on a studio tour because most of my work is made on my laptop – although I do have a video wall of 16 cube monitors and lots of old bits of analogue technology that I never get round to utilising.

How do you choose the themes you work with?
I don’t really choose a theme but invariably my work seems to come back to either some form of existential anguish or a representation of a collective experience.

What, who or where should be better known in Sheffield?
There are a few things. Cinema For All host a National Community Cinema Awards ceremony in the Showroom every year that’s really special. It showcases the work of amazing volunteer community cinemas all over the country and is followed by a party in the Workstation. I’d never been before I worked there but I’ll definitely be going to future events.

Mark Riddington has opened a small gallery in Mary Street (Gloam). There's definitely a gap in Sheffield for art spaces that can give solo shows to young artists and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the gallery becomes. You can never have too much DIY activity in a city.

What would you change about the city?
While I was interviewing people for An Open Ground it was interesting to hear that the main reason many people have stayed and made their lives in Sheffield was because of an affiliation with a particular scene, a venue, project, collective or art space and the communities that exist around these things. It’s really important that these spaces are maintained and valued – on the surface they can seem relatively small-scale, but they can actually have a big impact on many people's lives. For all the redevelopment and change that is going on around the city, I don’t find Sheffield to be aspirational, but many times I find it truly inspirational due to the actions and creativity of the people who live here.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m just about to start a new project with Jon Cannon looking at the relationship between the principles of refinement in the Bauhaus and how this relates to semiotics of images and videos on Instagram. It’s early days but Jon is really talented so I’m excited for what we are going to create together.

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