I had time to kill – in search of early Sunday morning visual thrills.
I took to the mean streets of Steeltown UK.
Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.
The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.
It was 8am – low bright sun pierced the achingly empty space between the long high industrial buildings.
There was nobody to share the morning – yet the clearly audible kling and klang of work pervaded the air, along with the lingering aroma of engine oil and decay.
This is what I found:
Obviously, stating the obvious in Comic Sans on a shocking pink ground may ease the pain of industrial decline and its attendant social and economic ills.
Sheffield along with the majority of British manufacturing towns and cities, has seen the wealth created by over a century of hard labour spirited elsewhere, and the means by which that wealth was created shipped overseas or overwritten by new technologies.
This has not been an accident or unfortunate consequence of global trends, it has been government policy.
It has not been government policy to regenerate these towns and cities.
So Sheffield has taken the initiative to become – The fastest growing British city outside London.
With areas of new and arresting development.
Though that may do little to redress the structural economic divides within the city.
So I walked the avenues and alleyways of the Lower Don Valley, early on an October Sunday morning, mourning the passing of the clang and clamour that once fuelled the city and the nation.
An aroma of engine oil and the sound of metal on metal still permeates the area, and the low autumnal sun warms the long straight streets.
Early one morning – just as the sun was rising.
I took to the sunny Sunday October streets of Sheffield, bound I knew not where.
In search of something and nothing, which I possibly never ever found.
Following secret signs, symbols and words, doors and gates shut in my face.
Before I knew it I was back where I started.
I’ve been here for the last fifteen years on and off, snapping away, capturing something of the area’s ever changing moods, the old, the new, the borrowed and the blue.
Wading through the archives, or searching for the remains of modernity.
On this occasion I have chosen to work on black and white film – the medium conveying something timeless, at a time when things are forever changing.
Let’s take a contradictory look and walk around those familiar, unfamiliar streets of Strangeways – where colourfully clad industrial barn, collides with blackened brick and stone behemoth.