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Storying Sheffield- Chronicling the memory of a city
by Startacus Admin
We have learned many things since the beginning of our 'Startup Cities’ tour, but what seems most prevalent (no matter where we go) is that a city’s value is so much greater than the mere the sum of its parts.
Stripped back to their bare bones, all cities are basically the same. Whilst geographical locations and superficial details may vary, when it comes down to it, all cities are just a collection of buildings and other man-made structures, clumped together in a higglety-pigglety sort of way… nothing more.
So how then can a city have a particular ‘atmosphere’? Why is it when you step off a train in Glasgow you are immediately enveloped in an undeniable friendliness? And why does Bristol have a surprising aura of creativity and colour?
Of course, the answer is a simple one. A city is not defined by its buildings, roads and bridges… but by the people who live there, the collective cultural memory that they hold and its distinctive power to shape the cities atmosphere.
It’s a concept which is easy to identify, but very difficult to account for...
Storying Sheffield is a project based at the University of Sheffield, which is delving deep into the collective history, memories and experiences of the city.
They are putting together a chronicle of the ‘life’ of Sheffield, through the creation of stories and other creative representations of its people, their lives and their identities.There are many strands to the project, which is bringing together a diverse range of people and allowing them to see their individual story as part of a much wider experience and a contribution to the development of the cities individual and unique culture.
The project is, as their tagline claims, ‘a cloth of woven stories told’ encompassing poetry, prose, video, sketches, paintings and performance- all unapologetically (nay proudly) everyday, commonplace and real. Often they are the ‘untold’ stories – those which are marginalised, repressed, disregarded, ignored, or stigmatised
The Putter- A Story that Saved the Scissors
At Startacus we are firm believers in the power of a good story - a human story told truthfully can move you in a way that defies all sense and reaso n- much like the city itself, a good story is worth eminently more than the sum of its parts.
An excellent illustration of this is the case of Ernest Wright & Sons, the last remaining handmade scissor manufacturers in the UK. They featured in a strand of ‘Storying Sheffield’ called ‘Steel Stories’ which Marked the 100th anniversary of the invention of stainless steel - a pivotal moment in the cities history (for obvious reasons).
So compelling is this video that it received over half a million views on Vimeo, created a flood of thousands of orders, brought this generations old family business back from the brink of closure and helped to maintain the last survival of a once booming British trade. Quite a feat wouldn’t you say?
The film documents ' Putter ' Cliff Denton literally a putter togetherer of scissors . This Film is part of Storying Sheffield , part funded by the Arts & Humanities department under Professor Brendan Stone at The University of Sheffield . Music and Sound Design by The Black Dog
We doff our caps to the good folks at Storying Sheffield and urge one-and-all to pay a visit to their website and lose yourself in a Sheffield Story.