Down in the direction of the River Sheaf, not far from Sheffield station, you'll find cobbled lanes dotted with old – and all too often empty – cutlery factories. These buildings, once ubiquitous in Sheffield, have largely fallen out of their original use since the 1980s, but in recent years many have found a new generation of creative inhabitants.
Some of the former workshops and factories that now lead post-industrial lives in the area include Bloc Projects, who've hosted contemporary art shows since the early 2000s. There's also 99 Mary Street, a studio and gallery set up by designers DED Associates in former Hawk Works in 2013. Artists Ed Bradbury and Florence Blanchard moved in down the road with B&B Gallery around the same time (it's now Gloam Gallery, run by artist Mark Riddington). According to Ed, it's APG Works' Rupert Wood who's to thank for seeing potential in this corner of the city centre: "he just felt this was the part of the city where things needed to start happening. And we think he’s right."
Rupert has been running screen print studio, gallery and framery APG Works on Sidney Street since 2002. A print maestro, he's worked in the studio with some of Sheffield's best graphic artists over the years – the likes of Kid Acne, Phlegm, Florence Blanchard, Tado, Tom J Newell, and The Designers Republic – and hosted shows by many of them on the gallery's walls.
From its colourful courtyard, with a moustachioed man painted by Florence Blanchard at the entrance, to its haphazard stacks of prints – APG is an unassuming, friendly place. And Rupert and his team's love for printmaking is clear in everything they do: from their championing of local artists to the detail in their promotional flyers, which are, of course, always beautifully screen printed on carefully chosen stock.
The council designated this area of Sheffield the Cultural Industries Quarter, and there are few places where the meeting of culture and industrial heritage are so charmingly conspicuous as APG.
- Words by
- Kathryn Hall
- Images by
- Nigel Barker