Sheffield is a city of makers and doers that delightedly boasts one of the largest creative communities in the country. Much of this community is concentrated in the Cultural Industries Quarter (CIQ), just between Sheffield station and the city centre. An area that once hummed and clanked with cutlery works and toolmakers, it now sings with all manner of creative endeavour.
So named by the council in the mid-90s, the Cultural Industries Quarter roughly refers to the area between St Mary's Road, Arundel Gate and Howard Street. Down even the quietest streets in the CIQ there's lots happening behind closed doors, with recording studios, a DIY media lab, and BBC Radio Sheffield all based here. And breaking out of the buildings and onto exterior walls, art by the likes of Kid Acne, Phlegm and Florence Blanchard keeps the streets bright.
A zig-zagging trail of ever-changing contemporary exhibitions awaits exploration in Sheffield's CIQ. Start at the always absorbing and intuitively curated Site Gallery on Brown Street. As well as putting on a fabulous programme of exhibitions and events, Site offers space to pause for thought in its common room.
Further along the street is Yorkshire Artspace's excellently named – and wonderfully designed – Persistence Works. It’s worth repeating that Sheffield has the most artists’ studios outside of London, and loads of them are here. Visit in November when the residents annually open their studios to the public. In the same building is Made North: a gallery and shop showcasing contemporary design, with a particular emphasis on the work of upcoming designers from Up North (many of whom are based in the studios above).
Around the corner on Arundel Street is the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), a bright and airy gallery space within a Sheffield Hallam University building, while over the road there's contemporary metalwork on show at Butcher Works Gallery. Next up is the charming APG Works on Sidney Street, a screen printing studio that regularly hosts exhibitions of work by the best printmakers from the city and beyond. It's a short wander from there to Sylvester Street, where Bloc houses artists and makers in its studios, and an eclectic mix of contemporary art on its walls and in its small gallery space.
Penultimately, reach the cobbles of Mary Street, where both "post-industrial concept space" 99 Mary Street and Ed Bradbury and Florence Blanchard's B&B Gallery have been attracting the culturally curious since 2013. Keep an eye on their calendars for upcoming exhibitions and their lively launch nights.
Top off the trail by heading from the CIQ into the city centre via the Millennium Gallery: expect big temporary exhibitions, a metalwork display, and an array of items and artworks from Victorian thinker John Ruskin's collections. Don’t miss the beguiling Graves Gallery – another Museums Sheffield gem – on the top floor of the Central Library. Home to Sheffield’s visual art collection, look out for delights by Turner, Bridget Riley and Damien Hirst.
Art Sheffield, the city's biennial art festival, has put together a handy map of these galleries and others to guide you on your art odyssey across Sheffield.