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Football and craft come together to create "new souvenirs"

9 April 2015

Sheffield United supporters will be working with an artist to create new one-off "souvenirs" inspired by the city's metal industry.

Home Ground celebrates the cultural heritage of football clubs with nicknames inspired by the local craft industries that have shaped their communities. During the project, artists and craftspeople will explore with football supporters how crafts can be used to create a sense of identity and place.

The project is a collaboration between the Devon Guild of Craftsmen and six clubs across the Premier League, Football League and Football Conference.

Home Ground kicks off on April 10 with Sheffield United, known as The Blades - from the city's worldwide reputation for metal production and manufacturing. Artist Chris Knight will be working with football supporters and community groups to create new one-off "souvenirs" which reflect their thoughts about Sheffield.

Sheffield United Senior Blades supporters club will work with Chris to create small copper "pie plates" inspired by the football chant "Who ate all the pies?" It has been claimed the chant was first sung in 1894 by supporters and directed at William 'Fatty' Foulke, the Club's goalkeeper who was recorded as the heaviest ever footballer with a height of 6ft 4ins and a weight which may have reached 24 stones.

The new "pie plates" will be created using photo etching of images and words reflecting the supporters' thoughts about Sheffield.

Young people from the Girls United supporters group and Lowfield Primary School, in Sheffield, will work with Chris to create their own embossed medals on the Sheffield theme.

The groups will seek inspiration from contemporary and historic collections of local craft with visits to Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and Yorkshire Artspace as well as exploring the historic records of British Silverware and the football club. Chris also plans to bring the groups together to discuss how views of Sheffield differ between the generations.

Mark Todd, Head of Sheffield United Community Foundation, said: "The Foundation, working together with the Club, is delighted to host the launch of this unique project. The programme offers our supporters, both young and old, the opportunity to be involved in a national arts project and shows how sport can inspire participation in all forms of activities. We are pleased that the Guild has chosen Sheffield United as the place to kick-off its national tour and look forward to seeing the results of the creative talent of our fans!"

Devon Guild of Craftsmen Director Erica Steer said: "We're really excited about this project. It gives us an opportunity to capture people's interest in craft through another passion - football. People in each of the six locations will be able to work with craft techniques based in their local heritage to create new souvenirs linked to their football clubs."

Chris Knight said: "I want to explore what Sheffield means to different generations of football supporters. The city has a history of producing metals as well as creating objects from those metals. Sheffield is most famous for its stainless steel but it's also got a rich history of silversmithing, steel and copper work. I'm curious to hear how this is reflected in local people's ideas about the city today, and excited to see how we can work together to produce new souvenirs."

Home Ground will launch at Bramall Lane with a small exhibition and a series of specially commissioned films of the work of artists whose work celebrates local distinctiveness. The films will be shown at the ground during match days on 18th April and 3rd May. Chris Knight will work with the supporters groups during April and May, and the work created will form part of an exhibition 'Souvenirs From Home' which will tour the six participating football clubs from next year.

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