Celebrating Sheffield’s Metalworking Heritage At Show Your Metal

in Sheffield

From June 13 to September 29, 2024, the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield will host “Show Your Metal,” a major new exhibition that highlights the incredible versatility and historical significance of metal.

This event coincides with the 400th anniversary of The Company of Cutler’s in Hallamshire and showcases over 100 objects from Sheffield’s renowned Metalwork Collection. The exhibition celebrates the city’s pioneering advances in metalworking and its enduring global reputation.

The Marvel of Metal

Metal is an integral part of our daily lives, from the technology we use to the jewelry we wear. The “Show Your Metal” exhibition aims to explore and celebrate the myriad applications of metal in technology, transport, jewelry, art, and architecture.

Visitors will gain a deep appreciation for the material and its role in shaping our world.

Exhibition Highlights

The exhibition will feature a variety of remarkable objects and installations, including significant loans and highlights from Sheffield’s Designated Metalwork Collection. Noteworthy pieces include:

  • Cornelia Parker’s Rorschach (Endless Column III), 2016: This large-scale installation by one of Britain’s most celebrated artists features 14 silver-plated objects crushed by a 250-tonne industrial press.
  • Otobong Nkanga’s Solid Maneuvers, 2015: A poignant piece reflecting Nkanga’s encounters with mining devastation in Namibia.
  • Steel Specimens by Harry Brearley: Highlighting the creation of the first-ever stainless steel by Sheffield-born Brearley in 1913.
  • Shinta Nakajima’s Acanthus VII, 2023: An exquisite work by the award-winning silversmith that integrates the stability of metal with the transient beauty of plants.
  • Model of Iron Pillar in Delhi: A replica made of Hecla Steel at Hadfields Limited, commemorating the creation of non-corrodible manganese steel.

Sheffield’s Metalworking Heritage

Sheffield’s history with metalworking dates back to the 12th century. Significant milestones include Benjamin Huntsman’s invention of crucible steel in 1742 and the development of the Bessemer process in 1858, which revolutionized mass production.

The discovery of stainless steel in 1913 further cemented Sheffield’s place in industrial history, impacting industries worldwide.

Environmental Considerations

“Show Your Metal” also addresses the environmental implications of metal extraction and production. The exhibition invites visitors to reflect on sustainable practices and how future production can be made more environmentally friendly.

Artistry and Craftsmanship

The exhibition celebrates the artistic and economic value of metal. It features dazzling displays of creativity and skill from contemporary artists and craftspeople, including Joseph Cutts, Mark Firth, Otobong Nkanga, and Bridget Smith.

Local talents like Stephen Cocker, Maria Hanson, Grace Horne, Shinta Nakajima, and Brett Payne will also showcase their exceptional work.

Supporting Sponsors

The exhibition is generously supported by various sponsors. The Gold Sponsor, Forged Solutions Group, has been at the heart of advanced manufacturing for over a century, providing high-integrity forgings for demanding applications.

Silver Sponsors include Sheffield Assay Office and The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, while Bronze Sponsors are ICD Europe, Rotabroach, Outokumpu, Sheffield Forgemasters, and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Quotes from Key Figures

Emma Paragreen, Curator of Metalwork and Industry at Sheffield Museums:

“Metal is part of our lives in so many ways, it’s a material that has both endless uses and incredible beauty. It’s also absolutely entwined with Sheffield’s history, so it’s fitting to be celebrating it and all its many applications here at the Millennium Gallery. We’re hugely grateful to our sponsors, in particular our Gold Sponsor, Forged Solutions Group, for their support to make the exhibition possible.”

Ben McIvor, President at Forged Solutions Group:

“At Forged Solutions Group, we are honoured to support the ‘Show Your Metal’ exhibition as Gold Sponsors. This exhibition is a perfect opportunity to celebrate Sheffield’s historic and ongoing contributions to the metalworking industry. Our partnership with Sheffield Museums highlights our dedication to preserving the city’s rich industrial legacy and inspiring the next generation of innovators in metallurgy.”

Visit the Exhibition

“Show Your Metal” opens at Millennium Gallery on Thursday, June 13, and continues until Sunday, September 29, 2024. Entry to the exhibition is free, with donations welcome.

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