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Trespass! : Exhibition breaks boundaries

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An exhibition has opened in Sheffield exploring the history of trespass as an act of political dissent.

Trespass!, which launched this weekend at the Sheffield Institute of Arts on Fitzalan Square, has invited artists and writers from across the British Isles to respond to the theme of entering privately-owned land without permission.

The show is centred around a documentary by filmmaker Jordan Carol about the Kinder Scout mass trespass of 1932, which put in motion the movement for public rights of way in the UK.

"There was another trespass five months later that's less well known," one of the four curators of the exhibition, Andrew Jeffrey, told Now Then. "That's the Abbey Brook trespass, which was organised by the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers.

"They were a socialist rambling group from Sheffield, and about 200 people went on their mass trespass along what was then called The Duke of Norfolk's Road," said Jeffrey. "They were contesting the idea that the road belonged to the Duke of Norfolk.

"It didn't get as much publicity as the Kinder Scout trespass because the gamekeepers had learned by then not to confront the ramblers," Jeffrey explained.

"An artist called Dan Eltringham has worked with a visual artist called Abi Goodman on displaying archival material from the group. Every year they produced a little A6 pocket annual which contained details of all their walks, songs to sing while you were on the walk, poems and reflections on Derbyshire," Jeffrey told us.

The exhibition, which has been curated by Jeffrey, Goodman and Eltringham, alongside Vera Fibisan, also includes work that explores hidden rivers and culverted waterways.

"There's an artist called Vanessa Daws and she's an urban swimmer," said Jeffrey. "She's taken a camera on her head and it's a four-screen video work that shows her swimming the route of the River Liffey through Dublin. It's about different ways of trespassing."

Trespass! runs at the Sheffield Institute of Arts until 22 December. The gallery on Fitzalan Square is open 10am-5pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday.

Sam Gregory

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