New Kelham Island Museum exhibition turns industrial components into art

Seven artists have joined together to form a collective, Material Voice, and have worked with the industrial collections at Kelham Island Museum to produce a temporary exhibition amongst the galleries called ‘What is the Matter? Materials, Commodities, Narratives’.

Material Voice has used collections within Kelham Island Museum to produce a number of pieces. The Crossley Gas Engine was a point of departure for artist Heliya Badakhshan, who has used lubricant oil in her sculpture. Usually required to reduce friction in moving parts and prevent rust, Badakhshan has instead worked with the reflective properties of the oil, pooling it around handmade objects so that their forms and colours are mirrored. Another artist, Seiko Kinoshita was also drawn to the unexpected beauty of industrial machinery. Kinoshita reworked the design of several machine components, remaking their forms out of fragile materials and thus removing their practical purpose, to focus purely on their aesthetic qualities as sculptural objects.

Using the visceral experience of the women who worked in the factories during the World Wars, Sarah Villeneau’s sculptures merge the machinery of industry with the workings of the body. Elsewhere, the role of women’s reproductive labour in the creation of Sheffield as an industrial powerhouse is highlighted in Clee Claire Lee’s work in Tom Parkin’s workshop, where Clee has drawn on elements of her family history to raise the profile of women’s contributions to the history of Steel City.

This is just a flavour of what to expect from the exhibition. Artists Gillian Brent and Sarah Villeneau from Material Voice said: “‘What is the Matter’ is the inaugural exhibition of our newly formed collective of women sculptors from Sheffield.  It has been eye-opening to get behind the scenes at the museum, and wonderful that the museum have supported us so enthusiastically.

“Using our perspective as contemporary artists who work with a range of materials, we hope by sharing our personal interpretations, visitors will find, as we have, new insights into the museum displays.”

Kelham Island Museum manager Chris Keady said. “We are committed to platforming different perspectives and encounters with the industrial collections.  These fascinating installations share new experiences and stories, and we can’t wait for visitors to come and experience them.”

Visitors to the museum can explore the exhibition from 12-29 September during normal opening hours: Monday to Thursday 10am-4pm, Sunday 11am-4.45pm (closed Friday and Saturday). Head to for more information.

There are no comments

Add yours