Twenty minutes' drive from Sheffield city centre, between the trees of Storrs Wood, lies a hidden outdoor art gallery – and, when I visit, a friendly artist ready with a cuppa. The sort of thing you’d only find here in Sheffield.
A hooded stone man stands proud, waving a flag, marking the entrance to this gallery filled with stone carvings, which goes by the name of Stoneface Creative. It feels like a film set. Walking across the road I'm greeted by a large face hidden in a stone wall, eyes sunken and nose long. A sleeping head is propped up on a wall overlooking a pond where two ducks play. At first glance the stone building, where local artist Andrew Vickers works, seems quite normal, but looking up at the top right-hand corner I see a strained stone face staring back at me.
Andrew Vickers has been a sculptor for over 25 years. He started out as a dry stone waller but soon got fed up of the repetition of building walls and no one knowing he had built them. So one night, he decided to sculpt a stone face and carved it into one of his walls as a signature. Since then, he has created stone sculptures as a form of self-expression, and his thoughts and feelings are now splashed across this woodland.
Andrew tells me how he bought the woodland four years ago, after asking the previous owner in a local shop one day if she was selling it. He's from Dungworth, just half a mile away, and he remembers playing here in Storrs Wood as a child. Andrew now rents the stone barn across the road, where he showcases his own work as well that of other young and local artists. He's passionate about the great outdoors and plans to build a water wheel to produce electricity, so that eventually the gallery becomes completely sustainable.
At first glance, this may seem like your typical woodland. Its peace and quiet and its beautiful scenery are worth a visit in themselves. But the thing that makes this place really special is the artist's touch. As you wander down the paths between the trees, look twice – you'll find Andrew's mark hidden behind every corner, transforming this woodland into something truly magical.