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A Magazine for Sheffield

58 Broad Lane: We make here

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A watercolour class at The Drawing Room.

Sheffield's 58 Broad Lane is an address you've probably been past dozens of times without realising, but the unassuming establishment is definitely worth a visit.

Previously known as The Sheffield Makers' Emporium, the building is home to both Gordon Snee Art and Ernest Wright, the city's renowned scissor-makers.

Ernest Wright

The Wright family have been involved in making scissors since at least the 1800s. Ernest Wright's father, Walter Wright, was widely known as the 'Little Mester' of Sheffield.

Walter Wright was also referred to as the 'Master Scissor Putter-togetherer,' the title fondly given to someone who's gone from being a five year apprentice to a fully-skilled craftsmen even today.

We believe we can make something out of this

His son followed in his father's footsteps and set up the eponymous company in 1902. Like every business it had its ups and downs, but it continued to be family-run for five generations until Nick Wright's untimely passing in 2018.

Meanwhile a customer called Paul Jacobs had ordered a pair of scissors from Ernest Wright and, after waiting for them for three years, decided to get in touch to be told that the company was about to close.

Knowing the company's rich history, he became interested in investing, as was his friend Jan Bart Fanoy, so he told him: "Pick me up tomorrow morning at eight o'clock, we'll drive to Sheffield." And that's exactly what they did - for eight hours, from the Netherlands.

Despite being a cornerstone of Sheffield's history, Ernest Wright was on the brink of collapse until it was rescued by this pair of Dutch businessmen.

Eight different models of scissor are available from the Ernest Wright website as well as The Famous Sheffield Shop, Kelham Island Museum and Millennium Gallery. There are also plans for the hugely popular Kutrite model to make a reappearance.

The scissors are also available from 58 Broad Lane, where the public are invited to watch the disappearing art of scissor-making by hand continue.

"We're not from Sheffield, we have no experience in production, but we believe we can make something out of this," Jacobs told Now Then. And so the legacy of the Wright family and the quality craftsmanship they were known for continues.

Gordon Snee Art

Directly above Ernest Wright is the home of Gordon Snee Art. Gordon Snee was born in 1931 in Lancashire and was an abstract painter whose work has been largely overlooked until now.

It's a bit of a melting pot, anything you can think of we'll do

He received a scholarship to the prestigious Slade School of Art in London and left Lancashire in 1956. Although he was somewhat inspired by the fifties, Snee wasn't a fan of the installation art of the time and preferred to focus on his own style.

However, he rarely exhibited because he didn't want that to limit his creative process. But now, along with the help of the local arts community, his daughter Jo Snee and her daughter Rachel Edmondson are helping to keep his work alive by setting up Gordon Snee Art.

Snee was a master of form and colour who deserves to be recognised alongside some of Britain's most high-profile abstract painters. "Although his art is abstract, it has a familiar and realistic vibe about it," his granddaughter Rachel Edmondson told Now Then.

After a series of successful pop-up shows and a major exhibition called 'The Joy of Seeing' in Halifax in 2017, there was a demand for a more permanent solution. The Drawing Room at 58 Broad Lane was the answer.

Gordon Snee Art now organises exhibitions, studio viewings, publications and other activities to tell the world about the artist's work. They are also currently in the process of setting up a charitable trust to further promote Snee's legacy.

However The Drawing Room is also home to a range of other activities including exhibitions, classes and community projects. "It's a bit of a melting pot, anything you can think of we'll do," said visual designer Ruby Fox, who is also based there.

Snee's daughter Jo Snee is an artist in her own right, and The Drawing Room's last exhibition was 'Now You See It' which featured her watercolour works of industrial areas around Sheffield.

Naina Bhardwaj

The March exhibition at 58 Broad Lane is 'Abstract Art and Human Consciousness' by David Mair, and is open to the public from 1-5pm Monday to Friday.

Find more information about Gordon Snee Art and The Drawing Room.

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