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

Archive Sheffield

Archive Sheffield is a photography and filmmaking collective whose motivation is twofold. Firstly, to document people in Sheffield today – whether at work, home or play – and also to preserve and catalogue these images so that they might inform future generations.

The city's first introduction to Archive Sheffield came in 2013 in the form of a newspaper of photo stories, curated by founder Clive Egginton and beautifully designed by Du.st. These stories ranged ranged from personal insights on Sheffield's growing population of Chinese international students to before-and-after portraits of kids undergoing surgery at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, their bright eyes and smiles becoming clouded and droopy under sedation. It was an arresting, alluring set of photos, not least because it shed light on everyday encounters that tend to go unseen by the city at large.

Clive's curiosity and dedication to depicting the city's diversity with honesty and a sense of social duty inspired the photographers he worked with. Nathan Gibson, Gemma Thorpe, Andy Brown, Rosy Nesbitt and Marcus Sarko continue to share Sheffield's stories and grow the archive, bringing onboard other brilliant photographers like India Hobson and Chris Saunders along the way.

Here, the collective tell us about their love of being storytellers for the city.

How would you describe your work?
We specialise in documentary photography and are building an ongoing archive of contemporary photographs taken in and about the city. Recent work has included wrestlers, a Chinese dance school, beekeepers, drag queens, and craftsmen. We all work in different ways and between us produce a diverse range of work, at the heart of all it however is a love of people and a passion for sharing stories. We also maintain strong links with Sheffield Archives and Local Studies collections, and are lucky enough to be working with them on a number of projects showcasing some of the incredible material about Sheffield that they have in their vaults.

What inspires you?
We all strongly believe that photography should be accessible to everyone and we take inspiration from the stories and people that we meet. Our collective was founded by Clive Egginton, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. His vision was to create a record of the dynamic communities that make up Sheffield, of its unique people and ways of life, to demonstrate how even in a smallish city, you can find the most surprising details of everyday life.

What do you love about Sheffield?
Some of the best stories are the ones you find in your immediate surrounding and our work has offered us the opportunity and privilege to explore the places and communities we didn’t previously know about. Sheffield is big enough to have all sorts of things going on (and often punches above its weight), but small enough so that you always bump into interesting people and are connecting dots between places and organisations whatever you’re up to. There are incredible coffee shops, artists, scientists, makers and communities of all kinds and plenty of pubs that still do things properly without feeling like relics (big up The Blake).

What would you do to improve the city?
Firstly we demand a monorail. Or a cable car. Less quick fixes, more considered buildings and spaces that will contribute to a strong community-focused future.

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Curator Jose Snook on the life and work of the late Barbara Wasiak, a photographer known for capturing the Sheffield music scene in the 1980s and 90s.

Gemma Thorpe

Gemma focusses her lens on issues including migration, homelessness, identity and belonging – in each case telling you just enough of the story to make you keen as mustard to find out more.