The Millennium Gallery on Arundel Gate is just opposite Sheffield Hallam’s city campus and offers a mass of culture and art mostly for free.
Rising up the escalator to the first floor you are faced with the city’s love of all things metal. Five large steel bells hang on the right, made in 1866 by Sheffield’s own Naylor Vickers and Company.
Steel is what put the city on the map, with three in five men working as cutlers in the 17th century. Before you go into the ‘Metalworks’ room though take a look at the two metal exhibits outside. ‘Barking up the right tree’ and ‘Forkocactus Spooneliflora’ were created by Sheffield artist Johnny White. The first is shaped like a tree and made entirely of cutlery with a steel frame underneath to support it. White made the exhibit in 2000 to celebrate the Galleries opening. There are three branches on the tree with human faces and one horse face. Their eyes, eyebrows, noses and smiles are all shaped with cutlery. ‘Forkocactus Spooneliflora’ is metal is shaped into a large ball which is covered with lines of forks to create a ‘cactus’ effect and spoon heads shaped into flowers.
In ‘Metalworks’ we see the changes made to spoons from the 1300’s to 1704 and a range of carefully crafted teapots, coffee pots, cutlery and plates ranging from the 1300’s to the present day. A 1978 solid silver centre-piece which looks like a grandiose candle holder, shows how the rich would have displayed their wealth at dinner parties. It is described as showing “the dexterity of Sheffield’s craftsmen”.
Children and adults alike will be interested in the ornamental handles, cutlery and the steel turtle used to serve turtle soup. Not to mention John Round’s 1900’s skewer with a pigs head on it. Looking in the drawers you will find an 1820’s marrow scoop and a 1930’s pea knife.
I wonder why we do not use pieces like these today? The museum gives free entry to all ages and offers a gift and coffee shop and café where all hot drinks are £1. The museum is open Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm and Sunday 11am-4pm