Martin Gray Sheffield Park Hill regeneration documentary is ‘authentically Sheffield’

Alumno Developments are currently working on Béton House in Sheffield

“A strong connection to place and shared space exists for most of us, however that evolves.

Our very own Béton House in Sheffield has been linked with a fabulous seven-minute film “We Were Never Derelict”, named after Otis Mensah’s poem by talented artist and photographer Martin Gray.

As featured in The Yorkshire Post, Martin took his idea to Alumno Developments, who are working on Béton House as part of phase three of the area’s regeneration, and secured funding for the film! 

The poignant film documents the history of the estate, with plenty of personal anecdotes and “the many memories of Sheffield through the voices of those who are involved in piecing Park Hill back together”.

Britain and Europe’s largest listed building, Park Hill, was constructed between 1957 and 1961 and is one of the earliest examples of Brutalist architecture. The beautiful “streets in the sky” were seen as pioneering, and the start of something wonderful.

Like much of Martin’s work, the Park Hill film project reflects a  “fascination with the relationships we have with our physical and cultural environment”

“The three-month Coronavirus lockdown, which began just after the film was made, put this into sharp relief.”

Park Hill Estate had so much cultural and personal significance to Martin, that he began to make portraits and interview construction workers who grew in and around the estate, only to find themselves decades later rebuilding and regenerating it!

Martin felt the urge to contact Sheffield poet Otis Mensah, who had written pieces for Park Hill that will now sit as permanent public art within the fabric of the building.

“I hope the film conveys how the process of rebuilding Park Hill has caused workers to revisit their previous relationships with this iconic place.”

During the 190s, Park Hill was associated with vandalism and crime, however, English Heritage’s decision to make it Europ’s largest listed building in 1998 protected it from demolition, hurrah!

Urban Splash developed their ambitious regeneration plans which began in 2007. The first phase created a whopping 260 homes, 33,000 sq ft of occupied commercial space, a scrumptious vegetarian café and a nursery.

Our friends at Alumno have now nearly finished phase three, and we’ve got very high hopes!

This is said to be the most far reaching project Alumno has undertaken, five years in and near completion, they are “honoured to be part of the Park Hill story and legacy”

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno said: “This documentary offers a glimpse of the history and the many memories of Sheffield through the voices of those who are involved in piecing Park Hill back together.”

Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash, said: “This film captures Park Hill and the Sheffield spirit through some of its great characters.”

“Sheffield can once again be very proud of the beautiful, brutal, masterpiece that is Park Hill.”

You can give this fabulous film a watch on Martin Gray’s website, and through online channels through supporting our friends at Alumno, Urban Splash, and Welcome to Sheffield.

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