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Giant Inspiration Rests in Sheffield

Updated: 5 days ago

An Industrial Sized Exhibition

On a typically British cold, wet and windy day in April 2019, I adventured across to the northern city of Sheffield in search of inspiration surrounding folklore and magical possibilities.

My search led me to a quiet street with a queue of people tailing around a building and into the distance - whatever was at the end of this queue had to be worth the wait.

Three hours shivered by, inching closer and closer to the door of a former cutlery works. As we stepped closer, excitement and anticipation levels of the crowd creeped up.

In small groups we were permitted further into the factory, first to a courtyard and then to the entrance of the main exhibition down a long and gloomy disused corridor.

Finally, we caught sight of the immersive and emotive exhibition that was The Mausoleum of the Giants. Created by Sheffield-born artist, Phlegm alongside a team of volunteers.

Typically known for his large scale mural paintings covering huge industrial buildings, this exhibition had something else to offer and it was created just for Sheffield.

The industrial sized, three dimensional monochromatic beasts appeared to be squeezed into the former factory, their final resting place becoming one of discomfort and lacking in luxury. As visitors were permitted in small groups, the still and quiet atmosphere was magnified and brought a respectful peace to the already mournful narrative.

A large scale character covered in black and white patterns lies on its left side in the foetal position
Viewers were dwarfed by the huge creations

A large scale character covered in black and white patterns is sitting on the floor holding it's knees

After viewing exhibitions, I always like to find a cosy corner in a coffee shop or pub and reflect on how I feel, what i've learnt and any ah-ha! moments. Did you get chance to visit the exhibition too? Or have you been to see some work recently that has sparked your inspiration? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

What I Learnt From An Afternoon with the Giants

Commercial Goals vs Portfolio Goals

At the time of viewing this exhibition, I was working for the Manchester Metropolitan University, my role was to support students, staff and alumni in producing artworks for sale in a retail unit. On reflection, I may have gotten carried away with this idea and harnessed too much of my energy making work to sell. I lost sight of the bigger picture for a little while and created goals that were driven by money and not by my portfolio. After noticing this distraction, I've been able to set myself more constructive goals, to begin to think about what work I would produce for an exhibition setting and how that would take shape.

Aim Big!

Making big work is fun, it pushes boundaries and pushes you to your limit in some cases, it creates problems of it's own, it can take on a life of its own. But it's so worth it to see your work in it's exhibition space, taking up the room it deserves. I noticed recently that I have been put off from making big work because I have a small home studio, maybe I need to stretch out of this space and make big work a priority again.

Get Help

To produce such an incredible exhibition like The Mausoleum of the Giants, a huge team was arranged to help to create the whole experience - and then 85 volunteers were drafted in to staff the event! It can become very easy for us creatives to want to take control and do all of the jobs to achieve our goal. Sometimes you need a team to back you up and I think it's a great thing to ask for help. This is another one of my goals that i'm working towards. I'm not saying draft in an army of volunteers for a monster project but even just starting small with exporting some jobs like video editing, photography, copywriting etc. leave it to those who can do a great job of it and you can free up some time for creating.

A person wearing all black stands in a tall grassy field wearing a bird-like mask embellished with cable ties
My degree show project 2016. Mask built in collaboration with Rudi Morris, Photograph by Jonathan Roberts

The Mausoleum of the Giants exhibition has now ended, you can find the virtual tour HERE as well as more information about Phlegm and his work.


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Blog updated 09.2022

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