Artist Jo Peel is focusing on her native Sheffield as the subject of her latest exhibition – Steel City, City on the Move. Peel’s new works consider Sheffield and its twin city in the US, Pittsburgh (formerly the steel capital of the world) and their shared steel-making heritage.
Steel City, City on the Move will bring together an immersive variety of works to explore the shared steel producing legacies of the two cities. Peel takes inspiration from the 1970s promotional film ‘Sheffield, City on the Move’, produced by the City of Sheffield it is today seen as a misguidedly optimistic prophecy of the city’s fortunes. The works explore how the steel has come to shape Sheffield’s identity and heritage with imagery showing the deserted and run down visions of the city as well as the new developments and gentrification now dominating its skyline. Sheffield’s economic decline was contemporaneous with the new wave of electronic music emerging from the city in the 1980s from the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League and ABC.
Jo Peel says about the project:
“Looking at the parallels between the cities of Pittsburgh and Sheffield, I was initially unsure about what I would uncover when approaching this project as I had never been to Pittsburgh and couldn’t be certain of what I would discover. As my research progressed, I found the similarities between the two cities surpassed my expectations! The steel heritage pervades both cities and still prevails in the present identity. The differences are just as fascinating and really relate to the national identities of the American and British psyche.”
In addition to paintings the exhibition will feature a new film made by Peel in partnership with Museums Sheffield, exploring the shared experiences of steel city inhabitants over 3,500 miles apart.
Jo Peel is a painter, printmaker, animator, and filmmaker whose work is rooted in a poetic urban architecture, capturing intimate elements of the city landscape. Locations are familiar (like London’s Brick Lane) yet decayed, the desolation generally heightened by man’s absence. Born in Sheffield, Peel graduated from Falmouth Art College with a BA Hons in Illustration and has gone on to exhibit in solo shows, group exhibitions and art fairs across the UK and internationally. She has recently completed a 300-meter wall installation for the London Olympics legacy at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London.
Steel City, City on the Move runs at the Millennium Gallery from July 1st until October 11th – entry is free.