The History of Bank Street – A Work in Progress


 This exhibition documents some of the findings and discoveries of a three-year research project looking at the history of the buildings now occupied by Bank Street Arts. The project has been initiated and led by Dr Karen Harvey from the University of Sheffield with assistance from MA students from the University’s History Department: Matt Blackwell, Tom Bollard, Emily Colley, Catherine McDougall, Liz McRonald, Amanda Smith and David Watkin.

One of the original aims of the Residency was to explore Karen’s completed historical research in the context of a late-Georgian domestic space with non-historians whose practice could spark new ways to communicate historical knowledge. This work continues and later this year we will produce a book and a further exhibition in collaboration with present day users of the building. This will be complemented by a website to document the historical research as well as leaflets and a physical archive to be housed here.

In this particular exhibition we are focusing on showing some of the documentation that has informed us to date, sharing the research and revealing some of the puzzles and riddles that have made and continue to make this work so challenging. The aim is in part to invite others to get involved either in the form of interpretation of what is on show or to provide additional information if anyone visiting has knowledge or documentation that can fill in gaps.

We present for the first time a listing of those who have occupied these buildings – this is a work in progress, complete with gaps, some inaccuracies and even more questions. The mystery concerning who lived where and when in Bank Street is also presented alongside copies of some of the documentary sources used in the research. Examples of work from practitioners working in Bank Street over the decades are shown alongside other source materials. Finally, in the Gallery 2 we are showing a small selection of materials dating back over eighty years, and found hidden in the safe in the basement vaults below these galleries. These documents appear to be from solicitor’s archives (Jacksons) who occupied these buildings between 1919 and 1974 and give a fascinating insight into the past.

This exhibition is supported by an ‘Arts Enterprise’ award from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and by the Department of History, University of Sheffield.