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.
Artist Lizzie Peters was awarded one of our microgrants earlier this year. We asked some of the artists to respond to the theme of 'flux' within the context of Castlegate. We enjoyed spotting her characterful creations throughout Castlegate Festival last month and asked Lizzie to provide us with a bit of background and insight into the making process and what they mean to her:
At a brainstorming session, Gill Alderson came up with the overarching theme of 'The Castlegate Mice' inspired by the fact that mice fleeing the demolition of the market were turning up in Henk Littlewood’s studio. Immediately I knew I wanted to create a pair of mice dressed in Tudor clothes and sketched my first doodle at that meeting.
The idea then evolved to become six mice – two Tudor mice (from Sheffield Castle), two Sixties mice (from the heyday of Castle Market) and two contemporary mice (from the market’s period of closure). This would reference both the Castlegate area and the theme of Flux. Another level is that the mice themselves were all essentially the same but ideas of gender and personality were perceived entirely based upon what they were wearing.
Thanks to being awarded a microgrant I was able to purchase an embroidery machine which enabled me to create custom fabrics for the Tudor mice and take the work to a much higher level. I also created some custom patches for the exhibition and collaborated with Gill to create some embroidered items such as handkerchiefs and tote bags. These were given as prizes to children who completed our Castlegate Mice Arts Trail and sold to the public. The money from which will go towards a future Exchange Place exhibition.
I really enjoyed creating the mice, it was a very different experience to making human-sized clothes but very rewarding. I did expect my work would be perceived as more 'craft' than 'art'... on the whole most people found them 'charming' and showed great appreciation of all the small details I strove to include in each outfit. The exhibition has also resulted in a couple of commissions and I plan to offer for sale more of these size pieces in the future.
Applications for Microgrants will reopen in early 2016. Notification will be sent out via our website and E-News mailing list which you can sign up for by clicking on the newsletter tab at the top of the page.