Art Inspired Ideas for your own South Yorkshire Story

Your own South Yorkshire story could be filled with many things. This is a region which boasts beautiful countryside, some magnificent country houses and some wonderful towns and villages. For art lovers, a trip throughout South Yorkshire can combine it all. Whether that be visiting some of the art collections from the regions many museums to exploring the streets, seeking out murals and public art.

We’ve been writing a lot about South Yorkshire recently. Called ‘South Yorkshire Stories’ we’ve been exploring some of the street art, sculpture and public art within the region. But there’s so much more that don’t fit into those neat little categories. So for this post we thought you might like a little more inspiration to create a South Yorkshire Story of your own.

A bug hotel in the Castlegate area of Sheffield
Elaborate insect hotels are part of the Grey to Green project in the Castlegate area
Roman Ruins outside of the Clifton Park Museum and Rotherham
Roman Ruins in Rotherham. These are part of the old Templeborough Roman Fort. Now re-positioned outside the Clifton House Museum they are a reminder of Rotherham’s deep historical past

Arty Ideas for your own South Yorkshire Story

Cannon Hall – Barnsley

We start our South Yorkshire story with a visit to Cannon Hall. Perhaps better known now for his wonderful farm, it is a building which has been at the heart of the region for years. It’s grounds alone are magnificent with views towards the village of Cawthorne and landscaped gardens which tell the story of it’s history. The grand house itself is now looked after by Barnsley Council and entry is free. Within the building there is an impressive collection of ceramics and of course art.

Cannon Hall is a great place to go on a day out in South Yorkshire
Cannon Hall in Barnsley

Providing the core of the art in Cannon Hall is the collection of William Harvey, a Barnsley businessman,. It was bequesthed to the nation in 1917 and then permanently transferred to Cannon Hall in 2002. Added to this however are works collected from the various owners of Cannon Hall as well as pieces created by those who lived and spent time there. People such as John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope (1829-1908); Gertrude Spencer Stanhope (1857-1944); William de Morgan (1839-1917) and Evelyn Pickering (1855-1919) were all magnificent artists in their own right and intimately linked to Cannon Hall.

A sculptural baboon inside Cannon Hall museum
Art within the Cannon Hall Gallery

Cooper Museum and Barnsley Centre

Our story in South Yorkshire continues with a trip to the Cooper Museum in Barnsley, entrance to which is free. Set withing a quaint old former cottage, it boasts some great paintings as well as a delightful coffee shop. In particular works can be seen here from the renowned Barnsley painter Abel Hold (1815-1886). His paintings of ‘Watter’ Joe and Peggy Airey are must sees. These are fine portraits of real people who would have been on the outside of society. Watter Joe made his living from selling water whilst Peggy would collect knick knacks and try to sell what she could. They lived around Barnsley around 1840 and would have been well known.

The Cooper Museum in Barnsley is great for a day out in South Yorkshire
The Cooper Museum in Barnsley

The Cooper Museum also sits close to Barnsley centre and here there is a wealth of arty options. The civic center is close by as is the magnificent Barnsley Town Hall which hosts ‘Experience Barnsley‘ and which tells the history of the town through its people. Nearby plenty of public art can be seen. The dominant Vertical sculpture sits next to Rachel Welford’s emotive glass panels which remember the Barnsley men who died during World War I. Nearby beyond the church three hugely impressive sculptures from Barnsley sculptor Graham Ibbeson can be seen. These include his iconic sculpture of local hero Dicky Bird.


Kelham Island – Sheffield

Our South Yorkshire story continues into the great city of Sheffield and towards Kelham Island. Here we have one of Sheffield’s former industrial centres revelling in it’s new life. Sympathetic development has started to transform the area into a vibrant place. Converting old warehouses into sought after living and transforming old water courses to become natural havens. Kelham Island also now boasts the Kelham Island Museum. This, despite not containing art in the traditional sense, is a must see if only for some of the evidence of craftsmanship that workers routinely employed.

Kelham Island Museum is perfect for a day out in South Yorkshire
A view across a landscaped canal on Kelham Island towards Kelham Island Museum
A giant melting pot outside Kelham Island Museum

Around the area, street art can be seen. Murals from Jo Peel, Rob Lee, Florence Blanchard, Bubba2000 and Phlegm can all be seen nearby. All local street artists from Sheffield it gives an idea about the artistic strength in depth that exists in the city. To find out where some of those and other street art locations are, take a look at this map.

Riverside mural by Phlegm

Castlegate – Sheffield

A short distance away can be found the area of Castlegate. Steeped in history it is so called due to the fact that it was here by the Rivers Don and Sheaf that Sheffield Castle once stood. It’s remains are now hidden beneath years of development and industry but there are ambitious plans to reveal them once again. Here in this area a project known as ‘Grey to Green’ has begun to transform this once unloved spot in a remarkable way.

The Castlegate area of Sheffield is great for a day out in South Yorkshire
An insect hotel part of the grey to green project in the Castlegate area of Sheffield
The Park Hill Flats from Castlegate

Grey to Green

Making use of re-wilding and imaginative town planning. Grey to Green has resulted in the transforming of a former dual carriageway into a green walking space and the riverside into a rural idyll. All around wildflower meadows burst out from the ground. Planted specifically designed to last and to be easy to maintain. Not only that but the soil and the design helps both to retain water in times of drought and hold back water in times of heavy rain fall. Nesting boxes, bug hotels and ladybird palaces are also incorporated into the layout. Nearby in the River Don, just opposite the NCP car park you might also be lucky enough to see work from Dan Dan. His river sculptures are a joy to stumble upon. Not meant to last, they change all the time as the river itself changes but Dan Dan keeps going back to create more.

River Don sculptures by Dan Dan

Roman Ruins and Clifton Park Museum – Rotherham

Roman Ruins isn’t the first thing you think about when you speak of Rotherham. Yet within the grounds of the Clifton Park Museum sit the ruins of an old granary. Here we have evidence of Rotherham and indeed South Yorkshire’s roman past. The original location of the ruins was Templeborough, in later years better known for its steel works. They were moved to the site at Clifton Park in 1925, faithfully re-constructured as they once were. Now they sit outside Clifton Park Museum.

Roman Ruins at the Clifton Park Museum is great to see on a day out in South Yorkshire
Roman Ruins at the Clifton Park House and Museum

Inside the Clifton Park Museum boasts much of Rotherham’s public art collection. Must of that contained within the building is from the Nightingale bequest. A gift of 81 significant artworks, Nightingale was a local grocer and preacher who collected paintings. The bequest forms the core of the museums art collection with other pieces been added over time through acquisition and through gifts. The Roman section in the museum also builds on the striking remains out front. The result of various excavations on the site of the Templeborough Roman Fort over the years.

Clifton Park House in Rotherham hosts an art collection and a museum full of Rotherham’s past

Doncaster Centre History and Sculpture

Taking it’s name from the River Don which flows through, Doncaster is another town with a long and proud history. Beginning as a Roman Fort it was originally called Danum. This was after the river itself which they called the Danu. The ‘caster’ element also takes it’s roots from Rome. Meaning ‘fort’ or ‘walled city’ it’s a pretty strong hint as to Doncasters origins. Today the town boasts the impressive St George’s Minster, a renowned racecourse and a historic centre. Certainly it’s a worthy addition to our South Yorkshire day out.

Mansion House in Doncaster with the tree sculptures in front. A great place to see on a day out in South Yorkshire
Bronze trees outside the Mansion House in Doncaster

Walking around Doncaster the area of the market and the corn exchange are jewels in the crown. The market has long been up there with the best in the country and the Victorian corn exchange hints at it’s former prestige. Around the corner, the Mansion House is Grade I listed and is one of only four surviving mansion houses in the country. Outside the Mansion House stand four bronze sculptures by Richard Perry which front the impressive facade.

A Rich Seam from Laurence Edwards

Doncaster Sculpture

Nearby other sculptures can be seen. Laurence Edwards recent ‘A Rich Seam’ pays tribute to the areas mining history whilst close by, the once controversial ‘Lovers’ dance high above a shopping lane. Created by Eckehart Selke they once stood in the Arndale Centre which became the Frenchgate Centre when it opened in 1967. Removed in the 80’s it went into storage and at one stage a garden before returning in 2015 to the Waterdale Shopping Centre.

The Lovers culpture in Doncaster can be seen on our day out in South Yorkshire
The lovers once stood in Doncasters Arndale Centre. Now it overlooks the Waterdale Shopping Centre

Finally the impressive Danum sculpture dominates the redeveloped Nigel Gresley Square. From local sculptor Michael Johnson it tells the history of the area through imagery and symbols. Remembering the area’s past the sculpture towers over the square bringing links from the past into the present.

Danum sculpture in Doncaster can be seen on our day out in South Yorkshire
Michael Johnson’s hugely impressive Danum sculpture in Doncaster

An Art Inspired ideas for your own South Yorkshire Story is part of a series of sponsored articles on the art of the region. The posts are part of a paid collaboration between Welcome to Yorkshire’s ‘South Yorkshire Stories‘ and Inspiring City.

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