This weekend saw Castlegate Festival take place - a celebration of this historic area of the city- what it has been in the past and what it will be in the future. One of the events which took place was the 'Flora and Fauna Tour' by artist Helen Stratford. The tour took a group of people around a familiar area made to look very different with a fresh perspective. The tour was made possible by a 'Microgrant' by Yorkshire Artspace - support for Sheffield artists looking to develop and realise a project they are interested in:
Helen explains a bit more about the tour:
"The Flora & Fauna tours transformed into an urban ramble on Sunday as Urban Botanist Christine Thuring joined a shifting group of walkers and myself for 3 hours, looking in detail at wild spaces and domesticated species, exotic and native, ornamental and blown in. Anthropologist Tim Neal took field notes of the group as an urban species while we wandered around the periphery of the regeneration area down Snig Hill (past the Black Swan or Mucky Duck while thinking about the Snig Elephant), into Love Square (uncovering the medicinal secrets of plantain growing alongside ominous Buddleia) we walked alongside the greenway and the River Don to Blonk Street bridge, (looking at horse head height windows and getting very excited about Ivy-leaved Toadflax).
We gathered evidence, made notes and talked about regeneration, rough sleepers, maintained wildness, wild maintenance, the native and the exotic, reconsidered weeds and how these terms might be reviewed in relation to the city and human inhabitation. With this in mind a recurring quote, which Christine beautifully recounted, was that of Richard Mabey from his book ‘Weeds,’ specifically Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), "the mother of worts", "defined by its habit and habitat. It thrives in roadways, field-paths, church steps. In the most literal sense, it dogs human footsteps."