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

James Clarkson, K-House at Bloc Projects. Photos by Jules Lister.

Platform is a professional development programme enabling artists to work with Sheffield’s visual arts organisations. Platform 20 brings together exhibitions by the latest cohort, taking place at Bloc Projects, Yorkshire Artspace and Site Gallery.

Bloc Projects hosts K-House, James Clarkson’s thought-provoking installation that is, in turn, office space and gallery of modern sculpture. It hovers between the two, never quite one nor the other. The uncertainty makes a compelling experience, particularly for those who enjoy cutting-edge design and who are charmed by clean, elegant lines and immaculate surfaces. The work’s perfection is as unsettling as the future it foreshadows – a Mary Celeste of a workplace. Clarkson’s work is beautiful and ominous in equal measure.

Conor Rogers, Manor Boy at Yorkshire Artspace. Photos by Jules Lister.

Yorkshire Artspace presents the wonderfully engaging Manor Boy by Conor Rogers, whose own life is the catalyst for his artwork – paintings on paddling pools and betting slips, poems written on cigarette papers. These surfaces are key – playful and poignant, bringing us closer into his world. The works on betting slips are an everyday reminder of how things are – betting shop interiors, watching horse racing at home, and snapshots of the figures in which gamblers place their hopes. By painting with such care Rogers demonstrates breathtaking dexterity and great warmth for his subjects.

Maud Haya-Baviera, Victoria Lucas and Joanna Whittle, Heavy Water at Site Gallery. Photos by Jules Lister.

Site Gallery is the venue for Heavy Water, an exhibition of work by Maud Haya-Baviera, Victoria Lucas and Joanna Whittle. With four time-based works to view, the running time is approximately half an hour, with gaps in the schedule to view the wall-based works.

Coalesce by Victoria Lucas is a dazzling piece of projected CGI accompanied by the sound of deep breathing and primal incantation. This is art at its challenging best – visually stimulating to stir an initial, visceral response before our minds engage with layers of meaning and interpretations. Lucas’s thoughtful juxtaposition of textures and weight, both physical and psychological, provides a highly rewarding encounter.

Maud Haya-Baviera’s Things Fall Apart invites us to reconsider perceptions of cultural narratives. Skilfully constructed from film clips it is a dynamic tapestry of imagery, bringing to mind JMW Turner, who strapped himself to a mast in order to more directly feel the power of a stormy sea. The soundtrack echoes the earlier piece by Lucas and builds tension.

Joanna Whittle presents three paintings of dark, otherworldly spaces, framed to suggest shrines, and a museum-style cabinet of fascinating artefacts. The descriptions, like the artworks, are enigmatic, encouraging the viewer to weave stories. These are beguiling objects, a seamless extension of her extraordinary paintings, as evocative as they are exquisite. They add to the show’s prevailing mood of earthly ritual, of connections, tangible and intangible, and of personal reclamation.

Haya-Baviera’s Wish You Were Here provides a fitting closure. Highly colourised postcards and a jaunty voice-over create an apparently upbeat sense of enjoyable holidays. Yet, as the film progresses, we are left feeling that this is only a temporary masking of darker subtext.

Time spent in the beautifully curated Heavy Water rewards the soul, in times when it has been tossed in a seemingly never-ending Turner sea.

Platform 20 is supported by the Freelands Artist Programme.

Book a timed ticket in advance:
Book for Site Gallery / Yorkshire Artspace
Book for Bloc Projects

Related events:

Platform 22: Q+A
9 August, 5pm, online – book now
An information session on the next call-out for artists in Sheffield City Region to take part in the two-year Platform residency with Site Gallery.

Heavy Water – in-conversation with Maud Haya-Baviera, Joanna Whittle + Victoria Lucas
10 August, 6pm, online – book now
A panel discussion from the artists about their group exhibition Platform 20: Heavy Water.

Manor Boy – Conor Rogers + special guest Warda Yassin
14 August, 2pm, Yorkshire Artspace – book now
Join artist Conor Rogers and Sheffield poet laureate Warda Yassin for a Saturday afternoon of spoken word performance and in-conversation, hosted by Site Gallery programme assistant Shalikah Walters.

Heavy Water – Maud Haya-Baviera + John Eng Kiet Bloomfield, Curator, Wysing Arts Centre
17 August, 6pm, online – book now
Maud Haya-Baviera discusses her process and practice to date with curator John Eng Kiet Bloomfield.

Journeys in the Moss Archive
19 August, 6pm, Site Gallery – book now
A workshop involving reading, imagination and collective storytelling inspired by mosses and other small organisms. Led by artist Jamie Allan, in dialogue with Victoria Lucas's work in the Heavy Water exhibition.

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