I’ve always loved visiting Bishop’s House in Sheffield, a trip made easier by the fact that for several years we lived in a grotty flat about a hairdressers only about half a mile away. It (the house not the flat) dates back to the mid 1500s and was lovingly restored and stabilised several decades ago. Sparsely kitted out inside, with furniture and interpretive displays kept to a minimum, you passed through the reception area into history.
Today the house is still in good shape but the local Council have decided it isn’t able to afford to pay for staff the keep it open or secure. £60 million to knock down buildings in the city centre for redevelopment? No problem. Millions to resurface roads and replace every street sign in the city (including those old cast iron ones)? No problem. So now, the house is kept going thanks to the help of volunteers. It’s only open at the weekends, and if someone is poorly and cannot unlock, then it stays shut.
Stuck in the corner of a large park, with public access 24/7 and local youths congregating outside until all hours, every time I leave after a visit I worry it’ll not be there next time, it is so vulnerable. The council have put up two massive security fittings festooned with security equipment to monitor the place but the firm which runs the cameras is somewhere like Southend. Quite how they’re supposed to act if they do see something I’m not exactly sure.
Anyhow, the volunteers do what they can to raise a bit of funding and recently hosted an improv music event featuring local musicians. It was a very interesting experience, listening to twenty first century music in such a historic setting, with light projections decorating the room, while local kids peered in through leaded windows and wondered if their white lightning had kicked in early.
The fact that The Garden were playing their first live show was enough to drag me across the city (one guy was prepared to drive over from Liverpool and back). A duo, comprising two former Comsat Angels musicians Andy Peake (keyboard player for over twenty years) and guitarist Nick Robinson (with them for about twenty weeks!). A fully instrumental set, with the output of the two musicians blending so well they hard to tell apart at times, it was an excellent debut.
As always I dragged my camera along though with the light projections I didn’t expect to be able to get much, so after a while I settled for upping the exposure times, resting the camera on a wooden bench and letting the lights do what they wanted. I’ve taken a few of the images and blended them together and the results managed to capture more about the music than I ever expected.
The Garden web page (with links to Soundcloud clips)