This website uses cookies. Read more about our cookie/privacy policy.

Accept and Close

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

Being Human Festival is the UK’s national festival of the humanities, aimed at helping us understand what it means to be human. Its programme features exhibitions, workshops, audio walks and talks, bringing to the public new ideas in archaeology, art history, philosophy, languages, literature, history, cultural studies, music, theatre and theology.

The theme for 2020's festival is New Worlds. The Sheffield programme invites you to collectively imagine the future with the People’s Palace of Possibility, take yourself on self-guided audio walks, discover stories of the earliest Native American travellers to Europe, have a go at translating a poem from a minority language, and lots more. It's organised by the University of Sheffield, along with Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, and partners including Site Gallery, The Bare Project and Bloc Projects. Most of the Being Human 2020 programme is online, while there'll be a socially distanced in-person exhibition at Bloc Projects.

Read on for the full Being Human 2020 Sheffield programme.

The People’s Palace of Possibility
12–22 November
Take part in an act of collective imagining and help build the People’s Palace of Possibility in this at-home activity. You'll be invited to share visions for the future in this interactive online activity.

Tunnel Audio Experience
12–22 November
Put on your headphones for this self-led audio walk. Blending original music, field recording and computer-generated voices, this sonic journey reflects on the blurry lines between the natural and the artificial, the organic and the technological. Devised by Dr Yaron Shyldkrot in collaboration with James Edward Armstrong and Lisa Savini.

People's Palace of Possibility

Bridges Audio Experience
12–22 November
Dr Radha Kapuria leads you into the fascinating world of the musicians and dancers of Punjab. You'll be transported to the mystical ‘Bridge of the Dancing Girl’ (Pul Kanjri) on the India-Pakistan border near Amritsar, as you're taken on an audio journey between Lady’s Bridge and Ball Street Bridge here in Sheffield. Navigate the walkways of Kelham Island as you immerse yourself in the storytelling, music and movement of 20th century India.

Who Lies Beneath Audio Experience
12–22 November
Wadsley Church cemetery in north Sheffield is home to the mass grave of 2,500 people who died at the nearby mental asylum between 1872 and 1948. A small plaque is the only evidence of this hidden history. Mexican-British artist Helen Blejerman has created artworks based on the flora of the churchyard and in memory of the 2,500 unnamed ‘pauper souls’ buried there. In this self-led audio walk, Dr Julia Banwell takes Helen’s drawings as the starting point for an exploration of life, death, nature and memory – combining poetry, sensory invitation and conversation with the artist, and inviting you to experience a renewed connection with your surroundings.

Illustrating Anthropology

Illustrating Anthropology
POSTPONED TO: 8–12 December, Bloc Projects, open 12–6pm – pre-booking advised
At this exhibition explore human lives around the world through comics, drawings, and paintings of anthropological research. Drawing has long been part of anthropological research and communication, in the form of maps, field-note sketches, and kinship diagrams. But now anthropologists are increasingly recognising the phenomenal story-telling power of narrative-driven illustration as a way to return their research to the communities they work with, and to share their findings far and wide. You can also enjoy the exhibition online.

Being Human Cafe: Block Life
17 November, 6:30–8pm – book in advance
Join researchers from Sheffield and Oxford Universities for a live-streamed discussion on the diverse ways that people make blocks of flats ‘home’, and what our homes reveal about who we are and the societies we live in. With Dr Inge Daniels on housing, welfare, and wellbeing, and how collecting everyday materials like postcards, photographs, and even samples of washing powder can reveal fascinating insights into the lives of tower block residents. And Dr Jennifer Coates presenting a 360-degree virtual tour of Sheffield’s Park Hill estate and talking about emerging research on housing blocks in Japan.

The American Discovery of Europe
18 November, 7–8pm, no booking required
In this informal, interactive, live-streamed event, Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock will tell forgotten stories of the earliest Native American travellers to Europe, and how they helped to forge the course of global history – challenging assumptions and show the ways in which Indigenous people and goods transformed society, and created the roots of our modern, cosmopolitan world.

In Conversation: the Politics of Display
19 November, 7–8pm, no booking required
Why are some objects chosen for display in galleries and museums and others relegated to storage? How do exhibited objects reveal or conceal painful or violent histories? How will galleries and museums continue to be shaped by the many challenges of our time, not least COVID-19? Join Dr Carmen Levick and Site Gallery curator Angelica Sule for this online conversation.

New Language Worlds
21 November, 2–5pm – book in advance
How do non-dominant languages preserve ways of seeing and relating to the natural world? This online workshop is for those curious about intersections between poetry, translation, ‘minor’ languages and biodiversity. Working in groups, you’ll translate into English an ecopoem from one of three non-dominant languages: Galician, Welsh, and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. At the end you’ll have a new language-object – a translated poem – to take away with you. With Dr Dan Eltringham.

You might also like...

Bloc Billboard: Kedisha Coakley

Fri. 13 November 2020 — Sun. 14 February 2021

Bloc Projects

A brand new outdoor artwork commission by Kedisha Coakley exploring the history of wallpaper, blackness, and legacies of the British empire.

Spaces for Creation: Morag Myerscough

A conversation with artist-designer Morag Myerscough about Legible Cities. How do we get around cities instinctively? How can we make navigating a city easier, and ultimately, more fun?

The Sheffield Project: Photographs of a Changing City

Fri. 23 October 2020 — Mon. 3 May 2021

Weston Park Museum

An exhibition of work by socially-engaged photographers from the late 1980s and 90s. Capturing a significant turning point in Sheffield's regeneration and reflecting both the hope and hard realities of the time.

Sensory Scavenger Hunt Trail

Join in this fun Sensory Scavenger Hunt around your home or in the garden, created by Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust. See if you can hunt down everything on the list and write or draw what you found!