The John Lewis Building
Sheffield Visual Arts Group's View
For a long time, the future of the Surrey Street building, which houses the Central Library, the Graves Art Gallery and a theatre, has been up for debate, with the building itself in need of major repair and refurbishment. Sheffield Visual Arts Group has campaigned continuously for the Graves Gallery and been involved in consultations over the future of the building for over 10 years. We understand the issues surrounding it. Does the now vacant John Lewis building, owned by the City Council and situated in the heart of the city, provide an opportunity for a new solution to the problem of the building’s decay? Not just based on that building itself, but as part of our public arts, literature, and culture complement ?
A huge advantage of the building is that it is located in our central ‘Culture Corridor’: that large sweep of cultural provision, from Shoreham Street to the City Hall. It is also near to the proposed new park and adjoining transport hub. The ‘Corridor’ includes the largest concentration of performance stages and galleries and exhibition spaces outside London, as well as the central library. The enhanced ‘Corridor’ could add considerable weight to the city’s efforts to attract creatives and their families to the city, and to market itself as a place to visit with strong cultural links with the rest of the world.
The council promised in 2017-18 to find a new library site in the heart of the city, and made a commitment to developing the Graves building as a ‘landmark arts building’.
Our suggestion for how the John Lewis building and the Graves building could be adapted to make a huge contribution to the city’s culture is this:
Move the Central Library to the John Lewis building. That roomy space could be readily adapted to provide all the facilities that a modern library needs, could house the Archives and local Studies Library, the children’s library, community spaces and more. We are fully aware that such a refurbishment must be achieved sustainably.
Turn the Graves Building into an arts and culture centre, very much in line with John Graves’s intentions. The enlarged Gallery could be moved to the ground floor, with level access provided via Tudor Square, with a cafe at that level. A variety of other cultural functions could be accommodated within the building: studios spaces; meeting rooms for arts and culture enterprises; a culture space for children; commercial space for arts businesses. The recent success of the Print Market in the Millennium Gallery is an example of how significant a role that partnership between the public and private sector can be. We need to develop more of it.
It would be an ambitious project and would need wide public commitment and serious resources. But the gains for the city would be enormous. And well worth the energy and commitments needed.
2022 (18th Year)
Heritage Fair 29-30 January 2022
Sheffield Visual Arts Group were very pleased to participate in this year’s Heritage Fair. It was a fantastic event that took place over the weekend of 29 and 30 January 2022 at the Millennium Gallery, and was attended by nearly 1500 people. The Gallery is a fitting space for an occasion which celebrates Sheffield’s amazing heritage through the local and community groups which look after it, and also looks to the future of that heritage as the city attempts to remake itself.
Alongside over 40 other groups, we welcomed large numbers of people, both other stall holders and also members of the public, to our stall. We explained our origins and why and how we began our campaigns, introduced our present projects, offered a quiz about some of the wonderful public art Sheffield displays, and our views on the refurbishment of the Surrey Street building (to create an enlarged Graves Art Gallery) and the use of the John Lewis building (to provide a modern home for the Central Library and all its facilities). But more importantly, we heard from all those who stopped by, who opened our eyes to much information and many ideas on how to champion Sheffield’s visual art. We made many positive contacts and hope to be in touch with those quite soon.
It was a great pleasure to be there and in particular to learn how much Sheffield’s great art means to its citizens and how keen many are to promote it..
( Information from The Art House www.arthousesheffield.co.uk )
They are looking at how arts and culture in South Yorkshire has been impacted by Covid-19, a matter which is obviously very dear to our hearts.
You can take part in their survey here:
The survey asks questions about the kinds of arts and cultural activities you have been doing since lockdown, what you are missing from
before lockdown, and whether the closure of arts and cultural venues has impacted your wellbeing or sense of community. Find out more about the survey and preview the questions without having to provide answers here.
There are four £25 Love2Shop vouchers to be won - anyone who enters the survey before 31st March will be entered into the prize draw.
A report to the four South Yorkshire local authorities and Sheffield City Region
A Virtual Exhibition
1st November 2021 until 31st January 2022
Commitment to anti-racist action
Our Coronavirus Appeal for helping the most vulnerable families:
Sheffield Young Artists
"City of Excellence for Young People's Art"
Organised by Abbeydale Rotary Club
(Event Established 2004)
Open to all Sheffield Junior, Senior, Special and Independent Schools
Entry through Schools only. Key Stages 1-5.
Full details and registration slips are sent to all Sheffield schools each September.
"Keeping culture open online
and helping the arts community stay strong in Sheffield during lockdown."
Press Release 07.06.20
In 2019 Sheffield Hallam University received a donation of £2,000 from a Sheffield artist to support students in the Department of Art & Design to travel across the UK to view some of the world’s best collections of works of art such as those held in the National Gallery, National Portrait gallery, the Tate Galleries and galleries in Glasgow and elsewhere.
Local artist Joyce Spurr has spent a lifetime not only painting portraits, but also Sheffield scenes and many locations around the UK and Europe, and a number of her works are held in the City’s art collections. Shortly Joyce will be celebrating her 99th birthday. Sadly, she is now almost blind and moved to Tapton Edge, a local residential home, nearly two years ago where she is greatly enjoying being well cared for by the very attentive management and staff.
Picture copyright: Rita Fletcher
Joyce Spurr, (right) pictured with Clara Morgan of Museums Sheffield, holding Joyce's 1976 picture of
Enid Hattersley, Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1981. (see separate article following this, below).
Joyce has chosen to fund a new travel bursary to support art students through sales of her own work at various exhibitions being organised by her friends Sheila Pantry OBE, Rita Fletcher and Steve Attwood.
Sadly, due to the Coronavirus Lockdown, the planned 2020 Easter Saturday exhibition was cancelled. This event would have showcased many wonderful paintings still remaining from what started as her magnificent collection of 188 framed paintings and 201 unframed paintings. Some have already been sold but many are still available to be purchased. Once the lockdown is over there will be more exhibitions, which will provide more funds supporting SHU students through the Joyce Spurr Travel Fund.
The Joyce Spurr Travel Fund was established last year to support the next generation of artists currently studying art at the University and will help current students attend art exhibitions across the UK to inspire and develop their own practice and aspirations. Before the lockdown brought in restrictions to travel, Catherine Etheridge, a final year BA Fine Art student, successfully applied for a Joyce Spur Travel Bursary to visit The Modern Institute in Glasgow.
Catherine said “I applied for the bursary because it would give me the opportunity to travel further to exhibitions that were specifically relevant to my practice. I absolutely loved the exhibitions I was able to visit. Seeing the paintings in real life was a completely different experience to researching the work online.”
“I would like to thank Joyce Spurr for her kind and generous support. I wouldn't have been able to travel to Glasgow to see these exhibitions without this funding, and it was an experience that has definitely inspired me moving forward in my work.”
The Joyce Spurr Travel Fund is currently closed for applications but will reopen to students in the autumn term when government travel restrictions are relaxed. Sheffield Hallam University philanthropy manager Cat Dale said “the university would like to thank Joyce for her kind generosity to support our art students by providing them with the possibility of travel to explore and develop their passion. We look forward to joining Joyce at her next exhibition of work and hope to see her again very soon.
Hard times for students
Many students at UK colleges and universities are currently experiencing hardship as part-time jobs have ceased and families are facing financial pressures under the lockdown. Sheffield Hallam University have launched an emergency appeal to support students who are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Sheffield Hallam Coronavirus Appeal is providing financial support to students who are facing significant barriers through food vouchers and hardship bursaries to ensure they can continue with their studies.
Donations can be made via the Sheffield Hallam University Coronavirus Appeal website:
For larger donations, please contact Philanthropy Manager Cat Dale directly by email:
Organisers of The Joyce Spurr Art Exhibitions:
Sheila Pantry OBE
Tel 01909 771024
97 year old Sheffield artist Joyce Spurr has spent a lifetime painting a range of subjects including portraits, Sheffield scenes and many locations around the UK and Europe. One such portrait was painted by Joyce in 1976 when Enid Hattersley, then chair of Sheffield Libraries Arts Committee – later in 1981 Lord Mayor, posed for The Graves Art Group.
Joyce decided to donate the portrait to Museums Sheffield and on Wednesday 7th November 2018 Clara Morgan, Curator of the Social History department, visited Joyce at her residential home Tapton Edge to formally receive the painting.
During her working lifetime Joyce was Deputy Head of Sheffield City Libraries, Commerce, Science and Technology Department and in 1958 became Head of Information Services at the United Steel Companies Research and Development Department, Swinden Laboratories, Moorgate, Rotherham until her retirement in 1986.
She was on duty at the Sheffield City Libraries at the time of the Sheffield Blitz and later painted a picture of a burning tram on The Moor. This picture is now in the Sheffield Museums collection and also some of her other paintings showing Sheffield Industrial scenes.
Joyce’s story appears in Neil Anderson’s book ` The Forgotten Blitz’ as chapter 12.
Joyce served for four years during World War II with the British Army in Egypt as a wireless operator sending messages to Bletchley Park in the UK.
Her neighbours Steve Attwood and Rita Fletcher along with Joyce’s long standing friend, Sheila Pantry rescued all Joyce’s art work which have now been included in 3 exhibitions and sales.
These sales have enabled Joyce’s work to be purchased by her neighbours, friends and art world acquaintances. Joyce, who has a passion for art, wants her work to be enjoyed by others.
(See photograph in previous article, above)
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and she will send you a Cultural Update.