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A Magazine for Sheffield

Portland Works: Safeguarding Sheffield's Heritage

Silver Plater.

Pete is probably the only independent silver plater in Sheffield. After 30 years working for W H Saynors, now sadly gone like so many firms, he set up his own business at Portland Works in 2009. After starting up in small workshops in the courtyard, last year he moved into the old Wigfull Tools packing shop.

He employs Dave and Elaine, and between them they'll silver plate anything within reason. Old second-hand cutlery which only looks fit for scrap can be polished and replated to the highest standards, making it look literally new again. Much of Pete's business is new work though - 30 microns thickness and "the best," he claims. It certainly looks impressive. Examples of his work can be found in Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and Hardwick Hall.


Artist and Educator.

Shelley lives in Sheffield, having returned to city life in South Yorkshire 15 years after she left at the age of 7. She runs educational and outreach projects with young people and adults across the city. She also holds a studio at Portland Works, where she paints and draws portraits. Here she is currently part of the group saving Portland Works and its many small businesses, artists, makers and musicians, through the community share issue.

"I am interested in themes of identity and these works in particular explore ideas of childhood and youth, with the ideal in direct conflict with the real. I had a really rather idyllic childhood living in a small village community in rural Ryedale and obviously that has had an effect on my character. I'm interested in ideas of how your surroundings, upbringing, friends and family form or at least imprint on your character in later life."



Mick Shaw left school to start work as a farming apprentice. He later moved to well-established Sheffield firm Pryors, where he learned his trade of machine engraving. He can make tiny punches, as used by the assay office for hallmarks, or large engraved signs, like the old brass ones lawyers used to have.

The process starts off as a photographic copy of a large-scale drawing, etched or cast in resin, then copied by pantograph milling machines onto hard steel. The job requires great skill and patience, a good eye and a lot of experience. Sometime in the 80s, Mick started working in a corner of long-gone Arthur Lay's engineering workshop in Portland Works, and eventually set up there as an independent engineer around 27 years ago.


Record Label.

Singing Knives is an experimental avant-garde record label based at Portland Works. Founded by Fiona Kennedy and Jon Marshall of the band The Hunter Gracchus in 2005, the label aims to release cutting edge music that falls outside the mainstream. The vast majority of its output is improvised or involves some form of improvisation, with local, national and international artists all taking part.

Singing Knives aims to take the academia out of improvised music in order to create an accommodating atmosphere that encourages creativity.

They regularly host gigs across the city, at venues like the Riverside, Cafe Oto, the Heeley Institute and the Audacious Space.


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