Storying Sheffield

The Fools on the Hill

Excerpted from Gradients. Glimpses of Sheffield


In nineteen-ninety-three me and Mel walked up Psalter Lane for the first time. I didn’t know I was there and neither did she; it took forty minutes, which I considered to be excessive although apparently the first three months of pregnancy are the hardest. On the fifth of November my dad was coming to visit and for reasons unapparent my mum did a test that morning and there I appeared in two little lines. She told my dad and he took her hand in his and congratulated her; an odd response, I agree.

In two-thousand and four we returned, with two extra little people as Mel started her degree again after a ten year gap. We’ve always called her Mel, at the age of twenty-one I think the term ‘mum’ was a bit too much to handle and she’s always mantained that she is her own person with her own identity; “I have a name, you know.” It’s just one thing to add to the long list of reasons why I admire her.

Mel graduated from Sheffield Hallam in 2007 with a 2:1 (one percent off a first as she will always quite rightly tell you in a begrudged manner) in Fine Art. I was thirteen. Over the past three years I had made regular visits to Sheffield in order to see Mel and in her final year I was part of her degree show, along with Mia and Dylan. At this point we were actually physically in her work although before then we’d always been present, including long before we existed. I also helped to paint parts of it, loads and loads of massive wooden boards painted white, which I did in my new jeans, which was a stupid idea.

Psalter Lane began to shape my expectations and ideas of university, which meant that when I started and it turned out people wore Hollister and fake tan I was majorly disappointed. Psalter Lane was a purely creative campus, with no sense of any corporate atmosphere and an ‘anything can happen’ attitude. Art happened around you, it wasn’t simply confined to studios or exhibitions; it spilled out into the corridors, windows and stairwells. To complement this, it came packaged with exactly the kind of people you’d expect. It was all ripped jeans and battered Converse, boys with long hair and vintage wearing girls; everyone seemed to be in a band or doing something equally as exciting and then there was little teenage me, thinking it was mega cool that Mel was allowing me to be subjected to things like this.

She was glad they knocked it down the year after she left, she said she wouldn’t have been able to cope, it was absolutely gutwrenching that they would destroy what Psalter Lane represented; not doing the conformist, the straightforward approach to education or anything for that matter- “Who knows long division? No one. Who remembers Joy Division? Everyone.”

In two-thousand and eight Kid Acne declared ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone’ and we did, in our different ways, we all did.


by Saffron Rain