Microgrant: Final Update from Helen Stratford

In 2014 we launched our new Microgrant scheme offering up to £500 with the aim of supporting artists in the development of their practice and increasing public access and engagement with their work.

We asked some of the artists to respond to the theme of 'flux' within Castlegate. This area of Sheffield, near to Exchange Place Studios, is currently undergoing a great deal of change with the demolition of Castle Market.

Helen Stratford used her Microgrant to support two projects, both exploring change in the urban landscape; the Flora and Fauna tour which took place in June 2015 with Urban Botanist Christine Thuring and an Anthropologist Tim Neil, and How To Re-Make a City/Demolition Mood Board working with the Castle Market demolition site.

Between June and October 2015, Helen visited the site to find out about the demolition process and how it sits within the wider city context, before constructing a ‘Demolition Mood Board,’ and concluding with performative presentations during Open Studios in November 2015.

We asked Helen to share the highlights and benefits of her Microgrant projects;

A key highlight of the Flora & Fauna project was that, what I planned to be a series of single tours became a rolling urban ramble that people could join as we walked around the perimeter of the Castlegate regeneration area. Other highlights included meeting the tour ‘experts’ Christine Thuring & Tim Neal, whose contributions supported and developed the tour into a really different and interesting outcome which I hadn’t explored before – particularly Tim’s anthropological field notes which were a fantastic addition.

How To Re-Make a City/Demolition Mood Board has allowed me to develop work that is both participatory and has an artwork as an outcome that can remain after my presence. The Demolition Mood Board had a first iteration as part of MSB2015 residency at Bloc Projects Sheffield in the summer but then became much more expansive and participatory for Yorkshire Artspace Open Studios, with studio visitors being invited to help me construct it over the weekend.

A key highlight was having the opportunity to visit the site and build up contacts with the site manager, Danny Baldacchino from Hughes and Salvidge, who spent time telling me in detail about the demolition process and guiding me around the site. The idea of the Mood Board, and also the Demolition Colour Chart which developed out of this process, was something that I hadn’t worked with before and was a real development in my practice.

Applications for Microgrants will reopen in early 2016; please sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates.

Further reading