We’ve Now Closed

It is with great sadness, but equal amounts of pride in what has been achieved, that Sheffield Creative Guild has come to an end.

The difficult but important decision was made by the Board in consultation with Sheffield Culture Consortium and with the agreement of 99%* of Members that from 19th August 2022, the Guild will cease trading. Our teams and our community of members have achieved so much over the 7 years and it is now time to watch that community grow in new ways. 

Please read the full statement below:

The past two years have brought many challenges to businesses across the country and to the livelihoods of our wonderful community of freelance creatives. It is with great sadness, but equal amounts of pride in what has been achieved, that I must tell you that Sheffield Creative Guild can no longer sustain its business model and the decision has been made, by the Board in consultation with Sheffield Culture Consortium, to close the Guild with your agreement. It has been a very difficult decision to make but, after 18th August 2022, it will be a financial and legal requirement for us to stop trading.

In collaboration with the Culture Consortium, we are exploring the possibility of retaining our database of creative profiles as a free resource for people to connect with Sheffield’s freelance makers and small creative businesses. This won’t be possible without your vote in support of the special resolution.

BACKGROUND TO THE CURRENT SITUATION:

The Guild was established in 2015 by Sheffield Culture Consortium and What Next? as a membership organisation. Its ambition was quite simple: to create a database of the city’s many freelance makers and small creative businesses, and to celebrate this vibrant artistic community with occasional opportunities for creatives to meet and connect.

The Guild’s financial model was designed so that membership fees underpin the bulk of our operating costs, supplemented by trading activity and grant aid. Over the last two years we have noted a reduction in full paid memberships; this was understandable during the pandemic when the income of many freelance creatives was curtailed and is equally understandable with the current cost of living crisis. Public and private funding sources are under increasing pressure and frustratingly, the Guild was unsuccessful in its recent application to Arts Council England for £28,000. This situation leaves the organisation in a vulnerable financial position with only sufficient funds to operate for one or two months. After a period of business planning the Board has reached the conclusion that, beyond the current crisis, the Guild’s business model is no longer sustainable. In the face of these financial pressures, the Board and the staff team have explored the Guild’s purpose and how we might reinvent ourselves to be more sustainable. In doing so we believe that the Guild has achieved many of its original objectives and we see this as an opportunity to mark what has been achieved over the last seven years and celebrate the successes of its creative community as we draw the Guild to a close.

The Board will ensure that our excellent staff team, who have carved out an enabling, caring and encouraging space for Sheffield’s creatives to share their rich and varied work, are fully supported in what is a difficult time for them. Due to our financial vulnerability, we have had no choice but to serve all staff with notice of risk of redundancy.

Thank you for being a part of the Guild, and for helping it to achieve all that it has.

With kind regards

Tracey Shibli

(Chair of Sheffield Creative Guild’s Board of Directors)

Meet our Members: Alexandra Wallace

Lifestyle and editorial photographer, Alexandra Wallace, shares a little bit about her work, processes and inspirations.

How would you describe what you do?

I’m a portrait, food and lifestyle photographer. I work with a lot of independent companies and makers, creative agencies and editorial for print. I’ve worked on big food projects with Lizi’s Granola, portrait commissions for the Guardian and photographed beautiful interiors for 91 Magazine. 

What makes a commission exciting for you to work on?

For me, it’s the collaboration aspect. I get to work with so many different creative people which makes planning each element of the shoot like lighting, colour palettes, props and styling really exciting. The beauty of being freelance is that no two commissions are the same and that’s why I love what I do.

Where do you go to get inspiration for your personal shoots?

My inspiration mainly comes from films and books as well as other creatives such as artists, designers — even other photographers. Exploring how different people interpret the world around them encourages me to push my own creative boundaries. 

My most recent personal shoot about wild swimmers started with David Attenborough’s latest book. I’m so passionate about climate change and how the world is being affected because of it, so after reading his book I felt inspired to talk to people who are taking steps in their lives to bring more balance to the world. Whether they’re living sustainably, reclaiming their wild spaces or connecting with nature, I started to document their journeys and share their stories through my photography. 

The wild swimming is just one part of of this personal project. The series acts as a reminder of the natural beauty of our world — immersing yourself in these images is the perfect way to momentarily disconnect, much like taking a dip in a cold, wild lake. This is an ongoing project, so if you’re a forager or if you’re moving towards more sustainable living, rewilding land or even living off the grid, please do get in touch. I’d love to share your story.

Do you have anything exciting in the works you want to tell us about?

I have lots of lovely shoots in the calendar with some great brands and am excitedly waiting for couple of commissions to go to print in April. I can’t wait to be able to share them! 

Any tips for anyone thinking of setting up on their own?

Do lots of research into what you want to do, speak to lots of people who run their own business and see if it’s right for you. I assisted lots of photographers before I went at it alone to see what kind of photography I enjoyed the most and to make sure the freelance lifestyle was for me (which, of course, it very much was).

Email – [email protected] Instagram – @alexandrawallacephotography 

Meet Our Members: Laura Page

Artist and photographer Laura Page chats to us about her exhibition “Hidden Depths” which is showing at Persistence Works until 26th March 2022.

Laura Page presents a series of photographic portraits and stories of people from across the UK, reimagining ageing and defying stereotypes of what it is to be older. The project has won a Vassie Award and was covered by the BBC, and is now being exhibited for the first time.

What was the inspiration behind “Hidden Depths”?

The project really got started when I won the Rebecca Vassie Award for my proposal to photograph older people in a positive light, but the idea came to me gradually. I’d been running a lot of workshops in residential homes as well as people with dementia and I began to notice my own bias. Especially the stark difference between how I perceived them when we first met compared to how I saw them once I got to know their personalities, deep histories and lives. I’d also picked up on people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing and wearing once I was in my 40s, as well as realising how limiting statements like “I’m too old for that” can be. The images we generally see in the media of older people are not particularly accurate and that can be damaging, which is another reason I chose to do this project.

What was your favourite part of working on this project?

Meeting the people I photographed and hearing their life stories and learning from their wisdom.  People got in touch after the project and told me how seeing the images had changed their perspective and made them remember who they are and that really meant a lot.  It was also good to make new connections with people in the first lockdown and chatting to people through email about their lives. It helped keep me sane!

Were there any unique challenges you faced putting your exhibition together?

Yes.  Photographing in the first place was a big challenge because of Covid.  Well, I guess that’s not unique. Most people were challenged by the pandemic. But the challenges were people’s safety and getting to grips with all of the constant changes. The same uncertainties applied to planning the exhibitions and associated events.

Did you get any interesting insights or nuggets of inspiration as you were working on your exhibition?

So many. It was interesting that, of the people I photographed, although they were from varying backgrounds and with unique characteristics, there were some similarities they all shared. They were all keen to learn new things, they all had a positive outlook on life even though many had experienced tragedy, they all liked to mix with people of different ages, and none of them seemed afraid to be themselves.

Other pieces of wisdom I learned or was reminded of: laugh at life and yourself, be open-minded and try not to judge others, don’t care too much what other people think, be brave, don’t put yourself in a box. I also gained tiny insights into pyrography, coming out of a coma, life as a refugee, tartan weaving, being a woman in the 1940s, painting pigments from India, what it’s like to be blind and what the inside of a Spitfire looks to name but a few.

Do you have anything else exciting in the works you’d like to tell us about?

I’m working with other organisations to take images that more accurately and positively depict later life. I really hope there’s going to be a big shift in the kind of images we see out there. Images can be so powerful and constantly seeing negative stereotypes can be damaging to people’s aspirations, self-belief and views of others.

Hidden Depths will be at Persistence Works until the 26th March 2022.

If you are a Guild member and would like to feature on our blog, email us at [email protected]

Friends of the Guild: Open Up Sheffield

We are pleased to welcome Open Up Sheffield as a Friend of the Guild! Read on to learn more about what this year’s event has in store…

Open Up Sheffield is one of the largest and most successful open studio events outside London, run by a dedicated team of volunteers, all of whom are practicing artists and craftspeople, headed by ‘Open Up’ Chair, Annette Petch. 

With no event in 2020, Open Up Sheffield 2021 was a bit different. Instead of being held over two weekends in May, it was an online event over the whole of May. Artists had their own dedicated page accessed via the Open Up Sheffield website with photographs featuring their artwork, along with information about the artist, virtual studio demonstrations and artwork tours. 

This year, Open Up Sheffield 2022 will be back to opening up over two weekends (30th April, 1st-2nd May, 7-8th May 2022) and artists will have their artwork featured online too. The event comprises workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions across the two weekends and a chance to talk to participating artists. Many visitors can buy a unique piece of artwork and even commission a bespoke piece. Artwork has comprised watercolour, oil and acrylic paints, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, crafts, wood, glass, photography, print, mixed media and even handmade shoes. 

Open Up Sheffield is a free event and prides itself on being family friendly, so much so that it is now a validated Children’s University Learning Destination, meaning that children can complete an art activity in their own time in order to earn credits to gain awards and certificates. Please follow the link below to access the activity https://openupsheffield.co.uk/childrens-university/

The committee of Open Up Sheffield want to make this event a showcase of the talent that we have in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

For more information go to: https://openupsheffield.co.uk or email: [email protected]

A reminder that submissions to Open Up Sheffield are open until 31st March 2022. You can learn more about how to apply by clicking here.

Meet Our Members: Wemmy Ogunyankin

Photographer, ethnographic filmmaker and writer Wemmy Ogunyankin chats to us about her upcoming exhibition How I See Myself and How Others See Me which launches on 5th March at Dina.

How I See Myself and How Others See Me is an ethnographic multimedia project that explores identity, self and the multiplicity of womanhood. It unpicks the costumes women often have to wear in life and asks who we are, or want to be, when that costume comes off. This is done with poetry (based on conversations I had with the women I met) and photography.

The project was inspired by the realisation that I often feel the need to be different around certain people. So… who am I really? Am I confident and outgoing? Or am I shy and awkward? I also wanted to know why there was a difference in how I presented myself. Why did people have these expectations and how could I challenge them? As women, we all experience this multiplicity of identity, juggling different personas that we’re expected to wear such as woman, mother, daughter, friend, creative, professional, etc. I wanted to see what lay beneath these guises, and really hear what these people had to say. Hence the “I am…”. 

The project has been a real privilege to carry out. I have met 20 amazing women and collaboratively told their stories, and now I have an exciting exhibition at DINA from the 5th March to 29th April 2022. It’s been amazing to do this and I never expected an exhibition at all. But, I felt these stories really needed to be seen in a public space, especially with how open, honest and vulnerable the participants were with me. 

Meeting and working with the participants has been my favourite part of this research project. I can be quite closed off to new things, not often keen on meeting new people or making friends. It’s amazing how much this project has shifted that. How they showed me it’s okay to be honest and vulnerable. And it’s okay to know your truth and share it. I’ve made 20 new friends, which I would never have thought I’d want, but here I am… excited about it.

This process was also a challenge though. I can perform very well, so I was worried I’d spend a lot of time not being myself, trying to impress, overthinking, avoiding and getting in my own way. I needed to build trust with my participants, just like they needed to do with me. And only through repeated experience did I overcome that nervousness. That led to a bit of confidence, which improved my writing, my research and my willingness to share my work (terrible for that, always hiding). I realised over these past few months that if I just did something, it couldn’t actually go badly. At worst, I’d learn something. But at best, I could have an amazing exhibition in one of my favourite spots in the city. 

How I See Myself and How Others See Me is a passion project in the best sense of the word. I have been able to use my anthropological knowledge and creative nature to do something that feels important. And I challenge the typical meaning of importance too. It doesn’t have to be huge, grand and world changing. Even if it’s important just to the women I met, that would be enough for me. I’m grateful to The Arts Council for giving me the opportunity to do something like this, and grateful to DINA for hosting what is going to be a great exhibition with a cool launch with great vibes, music and a DJ. 

And I’m excited to do my next visual (and auditory) anthropology projects on love, identity and the African diaspora. Watch this space.

How I See Myself and How Others See Me launches on March 5th until April 29th. Tickets available here.

Upcoming Skills Events for 2022!

Do you struggle with creating a social media plan and understanding Adobe software? Do you feel overwhelmed at the thought of writing funding applications and business plans? Do you want to engage your community more?

Well you are in luck! Here at the Guild, we are excited to bring you a specialised programme of events for the first 6 months of 2022, so you can can take on 2022 with confidence.

This programme was created through our working with the Freelancer Fund, as we we noticed a lot of applicants requested funding to attend training which would help them to develop their skills. In particular, people were asking after training in digital skills, business skills and project skills. 

We’re here to support you as much as we can, which is why we created this programme. The first series is on digital skills, and start in January!

These events are free for everyone to attend, with recordings available for members in the members section to watch afterwards.

**Please note that the names and dates of events are subject to change**

Meet Our New Development Officer: Susan Downer

Our new Development Officer, Susan Downer

Favourite thing to watch
Animated films. Jungle Book was one of the first films I ever saw at the cinema. I love the Marvel Universe, Bojack Horseman, Coco, Wallace and Gromit, Megamind, Despicable Me, Shrek!, Ethel and Ernest… I even have a soft spot for Frozen.

Favourite thing to eat
My partner’s red lentil dhal. It’s warming, delicious, and ridiculously cheap and easy to make. If I ever found myself on Death Row it’s the one thing I’d be looking forward to. And dark chocolate.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I moved to Sheffield in 2000 and discovered the Peak District. I run at a pace better described as jogging, and occasionally find my own jokes so funny that I wake myself up giggling.

What are some of the things you’ll be doing at Sheffield Creative Guild?
I’m covering a sliver of Jane’s maternity leave (one day a week), doing the finances and fundraising.

Why did you start working with the Guild?
It’s important for creatives at all stages of their careers to have support, information, and networks. And for those exploring uncharted creative territory in worlds where they’re expected to ‘get a proper job’, it’s invaluable.

What are you hoping to do over the next year or so?
Improving our offer to members and increasing membership diversity are at the top of my list. Please email your ideas and I promise to take full credit. 

Meet Our New Communications Officer: Jessica Sinclair

Favourite thing to listen to:
I love podcasts, especially any relating to scams or cults. At the moment, I’m enjoying listening to British Scandal, American Scandal, Conspirituality and Bad Bets. Music wise, I enjoy Dodie, Phoebe Bridgers, Chloe Moriondo and Japanese Breakfast.

Favourite thing to eat:
Ooh, depends on my mood! But broth soups like chicken noodle soup and Pho are my go to comfort meals.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I moved to Sheffield in January 2020 (terrible timing I know!) after living in Cambodia for 2 years, as I love the creative community here as well as the proximity to the Peak District. I’m also an illustrator and a tarot reader, and have been working on designing book covers. I am currently in the midst of creating my own deck of tarot cards!

What are some of the things you’ll be doing at Sheffield Creative Guild?
I’ll be working on marketing and raising the profile of the Guild in Sheffield, as well as engaging current and potential members with the work of the Guild. The creative community in Sheffield is so eclectic and diverse, and I’m really looking forward to marketing that to Sheffield and beyond!   

Why did you start working with the Guild?
Since moving to Sheffield, I’ve been craving a sense of community and meaning in my work. Being a freelancer gets a bit isolating, so getting to be a part of a growing organisation is exciting to me! I also really enjoy working with individuals, especially creatives, so I’m excited to connect with more Guild members to hear about their work.

What are you hoping to do over the next year or so?
I’d love to highlight the work of Guild members, especially any collaborations that have happened from networking events. I’d also love to create more information and knowledge sharing opportunities, specifically highlighting any first-time freelancer pitfalls so others don’t make the same mistakes!