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Sheffield Hallam University: Andrew Motion “What If…?”

Via Flickr:
What If..? by Andrew Motion

O travellers from somewhere else to here
Rising from Sheffield Station and Sheaf Square
To wander through the labyrinths of air,

Pause now, and let the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place which lifts you off
To speculate
What if..?
What if..?
What if..?

Cloud shadows drag their hands across the white;
Rain prints the sudden darkness of its weight;
Sun falls and leaves the bleaching evidence of light.

Your thoughts are like this too: as fixed as words
Set down to decorate a blank facade
And yet, as words are too, all soon transferred

To greet and understand what lies ahead –
The city where your dreamling is re-paid,
The lives which wait unseen as yet, unread.

A poem “What If…?” by Andrew Motion went on the side of the Sheffield Hallam University building in 2007.

Listen to Andrew Motion reading his poem

Christmas in Sculpture: Fatherhood of St Joseph

I am finishing 2009 on a high note with a trip to Sheffield on 29th December. It was a good trip and an interesting experience, which I will be talking about… in 2010!

Arthur de Mowbray, Nativity
Christian Fell, Nativity

In the meantime, a visit to Sheffield Cathedral has brought us two examples of Christmas-themed sculpture. I could not establish the author of the wooden carved group, although what I did manage to find suggests Arthur de Mowbray as the sculptor. It is a boldly carved Nativity scene, with careful work carried out on the minute details.

The second example is a now complete Nativity group by Brian Fell. It was produced in parts for Sheffield Galvanize Festival, and this year Mary that was created in 2008 was joined by Joseph and Jesus, and all three can now be found at the west end of the church (this part of the cathedral was built in 1966). Fell follows the same approach to depicting the baby Jesus as we have seen in the marble group at Manchester Cathedral: the newly born is wrapped up in sheets. In this sense, the wooden Nativity group that stands close to St Katharine Chapel is traditional in that it appears to follow the canonic depiction of Jesus in the nude. Fell’s group, with Joseph holding the baby, produces a similar effect of intimacy and parental amazement, as does the work by Josefin de Vasconcellos in Manchester.

St Joseph with Jesus,
R.C. Church of St Marie, Sheffield

A slightly different example, still in Sheffield, is this painted sculpture of Joseph and baby Jesus in the wall of the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Marie. It is simply beautiful and deserves to be included in the post. Together with Fell’s Nativity and de Vasconcellos’s Holy Night, this is a fairly rare example of Joseph with baby Jesus depicted in art, especially in sculpture. Joseph is seen here with his flowering staff. In short, Sheffield has brought us several Nativity scenes that focus on fatherhood of Joseph rather than motherhood of Mary.

Nativity, Sheffield Town Hall

Inside Sheffield Town Hall there was an elaborate Nativity display, one of the loveliest ones I have seen in the last few years. And below is a Nativity scene from Llandudno photographed outside Marks&Spencer in December 2007.

Nativity, Llandudno


Sheffield Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul
Cathedral Church of St Marie

Full-size photos on Flickr: 

Nativity by Brian Fell
Holy Family
St Joseph and Jesus
The Holy Night

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