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Station to Installation – Moore Street's Performance Piece

Looking like a cross between a dreadnought and a petrified whale, anyone who's grown up in Sheffield will have heard (and possibly been told) stories about the mysterious, windowless concrete building that sits next to the roundabout at the bottom of Ecclesall Road. Military installation? Post-apocalyptic nuclear bunker? Well actually, it's Moore Street Substation, which has been providing the city with leccy and making this in-between bit of landlocked Sheffield feel like a steampunk port since the sixties…
 
It’s more dramatic, strange and alluring than a power station has any right to be, and on Sunday 9th December artist Mary Hurrell adds to the sense of theatre with a movement-based performance piece set in and around the stairwells and walkways of the iconic building. Hurrell's Duplex is part of the commissioned Jerusalem series, organised with the Serpentine Gallery and White Cube in London in collaboration with the Academy Music Group and the National Grid and it promises to be a rare chance to get inside the belly of the beast. Saturday (clashes with Pulp – argh!) sees The Roxy host part one of Duplex and both Moore Street's fearsome giant and the iconic Sheffield nightspot are feature designs by Sheffield architects Jefferson Sheard, who more recently designed the University of Sheffield Music Department’s Soundhouse on Gell St. Here's a photo of Jarvis in front of the city's premiere brutalist nightspot.
 
 

 
Readers will remember Moore St Substation's cover appearance on our crowdsourced Dark Side of the Moor album (complete with contribution from another essential feature of the Sheffield landscape, John McClure), but Sunday's performance is a rather more substantial movement into the arts.
 
Jefferson Sheard's Managing Director Tom Rhys Jones was kind enough to tell us a little more about the influences behind Moore Street Substation. "The design was made shortly after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics – for which most of the buildings were designed by the great Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who brought creative genius to the type of architecture labelled 'Brutalist' in the UK at that time. His works would have been a very appropriate inspiration for a young architect faced – as Bryan Jefferson was – with the difficult brief of introducing a giant blank box in t0 the urban fabric of Sheffield." And our dreadnought/whale reference might not be the most exotic resemblance for the building. "It might be fanciful on my part, but I have always considered there to be some common visual characteristics between the substation and the armour of a Samuai Warrior," Tom suggests.
 
So, are there any other Sheffield spaces Tom would love to see used for performance? "Well, Jefferson Shead have other buildings in the city that are used for performance – The University of Sheffield’s Soundhouse, Hillsborough and Sheffield City Colleges, and the O2 Academy of course. But contemporaneous with the substation, the AEU tower on Furnival Square would be good. Or, just outside Sheffield, the atrium at Barnsley College or Barnsley Interchange would be brilliant for performance!"
 
Tell us which Sheffield space you'd like to see transformed into a theatre in the comments. 
 
More information on the Jerusalem project – which also includes a talk at The Showroom about the experience of not watching a movie – here. You can book tickets by emailing info@tillwehavebuilt.com 
 




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