Outradius, dazzle us!

After months of searching and deliberating, we have identified a film company that would be just right for doing our project films, the biggest spend in this project! We considered a good long list of 8 companies, from London, Bristol and Sheffield. We chose a Sheffield company, for a number of reasons, including limited budget. We are very happy to hand our project now to photographer/ cinematographer Divya Shankar and editor/sound engineer Shay Panezai, both graduates of Sheffield Hallam University and who are interested in the project! Their company Outradius media was recently founded, but already has an attrative portfolio of work. They will be doing a series of short films for us.

outradius snip

japipur beer snip

Their promotional film for Thornbridge Brewery


Their film for Lab4living, Sheffield Hallam University

Divya and Shay, we look forward to working with you, you have one month left!

Chamu Kuppuswamy

A happy tale

Once upon a time, a researcher sat in front of her computer opening and closing her eyes shut, flexing her fingers and  rolling her head in a circular motion so her neck muscles wake up again, for she had spent hours reading and researching, looking for answers to her questions! She figured out what was lacking! The tools!  Many days went by, emails came and went, and then one day, it came. The means to the tools! An organisation called the Heritage Lottery Fund seemed to be interested in supporting the sort of thing she wanted looking into. She was invited to a party! A party where everybody else had similar questions and could talk about them, with lots and lots of lovely food from around the world, and in a lovely building with a green roof! Grass grew on this roof and inside it they had all the stuff that researchers would want to use to think, discuss and make plans to do some more thinking, discussing and publishing! So there she went, in search of the tools, she knew she would meet a lot of people with a lot of tools, but would she meet someone who had the tools for her purpose?

Helpfully, there was information on everyone and their tools, and she found somebody she might like to meet. She met Karen, who was just the person, for she knew just the person who had such tools. Karen introduced her to Esme, who was soon going to come to town and stay there! How timely! She couldn’t wait, so she emailed Esme, who was happy to share her tools and use them for her. How delightful! Thus began a long relationship – well, longish relationship. She met with Esme, and talked and discussed, and wrote and researched and others joined in too. Even more joined in, till there were groups of them interested in particular questions. Now the questions grew, and spawned and became more fun. They came alive and changed into things and people and places! Cotton and silk, Carpenter and Arkwright, Millthorpe and Calver….. More stories came out, they all went out to explore beautiful places, talked to people, saw exquisite things, worked in libraries, worked in workshops, had picnics, took a lot of photographs and had a lot of fun!

But she wanted to know more, the details of it. So she went on a quest. Esme, who knew others from around the country, helped her in her quest. She went to Nottingham where she met Lowri and Susanne who were asking some interesting questions. They had gathered more people who were asking similar questions, and they all sat and talked and discussed, for a whole day!



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They talked about cotton and textiles, legacies and colonialism, communities and heritage, India and Britain, mapping, historicising and reconnecting, politics and law and stories. They talked through lunch and through snack-time, and they talked on the bus and the train, and from all this talk they came up with a plan. They would do more research. They would ask AHRC to support them in their research. So they wrote to AHRC, and waited, and waited. It was nearly Christmas time, the days were short, the Christmas lights were switched on and the streets were getting crowded with people shopping for presents. They were all going to go away, to India, to Europe, and to all corners of the world.. But they waited, they knew it would come, for they were asking some very interesting questions. And it came- a Christmas present too early! Ah, there is no such thing as an early present! But shhh…it was a secret, no one was to know. 2013 passed…and no one knew..the questions remained.

The wind and the rains came, and came the right time to get together. The time to tell everyone about the present – a new heritage project! Esme met Susanne, and met other people and emailed – In 2014, thanks to AHRC, there would be more money, more discussions, more workshops, more food, more visits to beautiful places and a legacy to the HLF heritage project!

And now she sits in front of her computer, opening and closing her eyes shut, flexing her fingers and rolling her head, content in having read and researched, and written. And one day, she will be out again, in beautiful places.

Chamu Kuppuswamy

Go Explore!

Explore, go on an adventure! Anyone can!

This is a post inspired by the Sheffield Adventure film festival in April 2014 (4-6th at the Showroom cinema). There is so much to explore in the National Park and beyond. In our heritage project it was an exploration of history and landscape for us, it enabled us in different ways and we enjoyed it! So go exploring other things, places, people, landscapes and ideas!

Here is a trailer of SHAFF

We will be exhibiting at the Outdoors Museum, one of the events at ShAFF. The Museum of the Great Outdoors is a new initiative led by the University of Sheffield. Building on Sheffield City Council’s rebranding of Sheffield as the UK Capital of the Great Outdoors, their aim is to explore the unique relationship between Sheffield, the Peak District and its diverse communities of users. Their pilot exhibition, hosted by the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (4-6 April), asks:

 ‘What goes in a Museum of the Great Outdoors?’

Communities: How have communities, both real and virtual, developed around and in relation to outdoor activities?

Urban/rural: To what extent has the great outdoors been assimilated into and influenced the identity of the city?

Histories and memories: What is the current ‘heritage’ of the Great Outdoors and what remains to be discovered?

Places and landscapes: How are places and landscapes given meaning and transformed through outdoor activities?

Wellbeing: What are the physical, mental and social benefits of the great outdoors and how can inequalities of access be addressed?

 And here’s something new I discovered through the ShAFF website – Sherpa gear!


Some great images there!  

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Chamu Kuppuswamy

Open Country

BBC Radio 4 is doing an episode of Open Country on the heritage project, and I was out with presenter Helen Mark and producer Nicola Humphries in the Peak District National Park on a cross country drive, stopping off at different locations to meet people and talk about the project.


Upper Derwent valley reservoir

Our first stop was at Cave Dale in Castleton where we did an overview of the project, my work as a ranger, and ethnic minority use of National Parks for recreation. From there, we travelled to Warslow, in the South West part of the National Park to meet Dr.Brenda King and volunteer ranger/Warslow resident Maggi Rowland at her church St.Lawtence’s. We were shown some lovely pieces of work made of Indian silk, developed by Sir Thomas Wardle and embroidered by the society that was established by his wife, Dame Elizabeth Wardle. After a lovely lunch at Yorkshire Bridge Inn, Bamford, we drove up the reservoirs in the Upper Derwent valley where we spoke to Pallavi Singh and Uday Nair from the Management School of the University of Sheffield and keen participants in the Hindu Samaj heritage project. Our final stop was at Millthorpe, to meet Sally Goldsmith and Rony Robinson and their dog Jack, discussing Edward Carpenter! After a long day, and good weather, we all split up, leaving Nicola with the work of editing and putting the programme together. The Hindu Samaj heritage project episode will be broadcast in April this year, don’t forget to tune in!


Ecclesiastical silks (St.Lawrence’s at Warslow) – made from Indian silk by Sir Thomas Wardle and Elizabeth Wardle


Natural dye material from India, used to dye silk


Myself and Helen Mark, presenter of Open Country


Ecclesiastical silks (St.Lawrence’s at Warslow) – made from Indian silk by Sir Thomas Wardle and Elizabeth Wardle


Ecclesiastical silks (St.Lawrence’s at Warslow) – made from Indian silk by Sir Thomas Wardle and Elizabeth Wardle


Ecclesiastical silks (St.Lawrence’s at Warslow) – made from Indian silk by Sir Thomas Wardle and Elizabeth Wardle


Ecclesiastical silks (St.Lawrence’s at Warslow) – made from Indian silk by Sir Thomas Wardle and Elizabeth Wardle


Ecclesiastical silks (St.Lawrence’s at Warslow) – made from Indian silk by Sir Thomas Wardle and Elizabeth Wardle


Organ at St.Lawrence’s at Warslow


Mosaics at St.Lawrence’s at Warslow


Tripartite panel at St.Lawrence’s at Warslow


Tripartite panel at St.Lawrence’s at Warslow


Tripartite panel at St.Lawrence’s at Warslow


Dr.Brenda King, the silk expert


St.Lawrence’s at Warslow


Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Interviewing Uday Nair at Upper Derwent valley


The dam overflows in the Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir


Helen Mark, myself, Uday Nair, Pallavi Singh and Nicola Humphries


At Millthorpe – brook and Carpenter House


Myself, Helen Mark, Sally Goldsmith and Rony Robinson


Sally Goldsmith, Rony Robinson and Jack


The moon coming up




Doing a short walk..


Washing our boots after a muddy walk


the brook was swollen


It was a cold day and the chimneys were working full time


Christmas tree with moon on the top!

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Dr.Brenda King’s article in an arts and crafts magazine

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Front Cover of MARG – arts and crafts magazine


Chamu Kuppuswamy

Wardle White Peak Walk

Now that we have finished activities that we set out to do at the outset of this project, we are pursuing things that came up during the project that we found interesting. Our meeting on the 2nd of August 2013 helped us design a couple of walks, one of them in the Manifold valley. Maggi Rowland took me on this superb illustrative walk, accompanied by Mike Pupius from Marsh Farm briefing centre.


Maggi, Mike and myself at Swainsley tunnel

Ever wondered if the Empire had a positive influence on its subjects and industry? Look no further than Sir Thomas Wardle, who was an enthusiastic researcher-entrepreneur during the British Raj, who developed the tussur silk industry in India and revived it, providing livelihoods to people in the Kashmir region and developing Britain’s prominence in international silk trade, all from his base in the Peak District. For his work in design, dyeing and silk, see here. This collection at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester is fantastic, especially their online archive holds electronic version of his wonderful design books! I was surprised about how modern the designs looked!

Thomas Wardle lived in Leek, Staffordshire, and bought a summer house in the scenic Manifold valley which is now part of the Peak District National Park and it is called Swainsley Hall. The river Manifold flows just beside Swainsley Hall. He put weirs in the river, and went fishing in it. Wardle was a traveller and frequently went to India for work and pleasure.

wardle raj snip_whitworth gallery

An image from Whitworth gallery webpages

He had a whole room of trophies with stuff from his travels and adventures. A Bengal tiger, the full beast and a bear that he shot in Kashmir were on display at his house. He had another room full of paintings from a friend and famous artist.  A week after he bought Swainsley Hall in 1896, the decision to bring the railway into Manifold valley was made. He wanted to get away from it all in Leek and despaired that his idyllic spot would be next to a train station! He went on the Board of Directors of the railway company and worked out a solution – he got the train to go into a tunnel. Hence Swainsley tunnel! He was very interested in a number of different fields and untiringly educated himself in these and experimented in them! As we walked in the Manifold valley we could see his influence all around, Maggi brought it all alive with her stories about Wardle. Quite close to the Hall, the river Manifold goes into a swallow hole and dries up during summer. But the Victorian English gent that Wardle was, he wanted the countryside with all its features, flowing rivers, rolling hills, meadows. So he came up with a plan. He blocked the swallow hole with concrete and closed it off. But as soon as he had done that, the pressure from underneath was too much and with a bang that was heard around in the countryside in that area, the concrete exploded and opened up the swallow hole again! You can see the remains of the concrete even today in the river bed, we saw some chunks of them strewn around the edges, but the river was swollen the day we went out walking in the Manifold valley.


Swainsley Tunnel


Out of the tunnel and walking towards Swainsley Hall


Swainlsey Hall and some holiday cottages


A good view of Swainsley Hall


The River Manifold and Swainsley Hall


The wet weather didnt seem to both the horses!

 Wardle entertained a number of prominent people at Swainsley Hall. William Morris was invited but couldn’t come because of his ill health, and he passed away shortly after.  Mark Twain visited Swainsley, as did Badell Powell. In true scout style he pitched his tent outside in the grounds and stayed there! After Wardle, his daughter added a ballroom, visible as we walked on the other side of the river.

On a wet rainy day, when the whole country was feeling the water everywhere, we were out in the Staffordshire Moorlands, in the valleys, exploring an old railway turned cycle/walk route, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves being transported back. We did Hulme End to Ecton on the trail, then Ecton to Swainsley on the road, passing Ecton Lea (the building that was once a Temperance hotel).  We then went over Swainsley Bridge and through Swainsley Tunnel which passes underneath Swainsley Hall and continued along the road/trail to Wetton Mill.  Unfortunately Wetton Mill tearooms were shut. We had a small diversion there to look at the river – that area where the river disappears is known as Redhurst.  We turned round and passed Wetton Mill again and at Dale farm we joined a track on the other side of the river.  At Swainsley we crossed the bridge again and joined the trail, crossing the Warslow Brook where it joins the river Manifold just before Ecton Lea.  We returned to Hulme End on the trail, passing Dale Mine on the left hand side. On the walk, we cleared up a tree that had fallen in the wayside and was blocking part of the path.


At the beginning of the walk – Hulme end


Water logged fields!


We did little detours..


Going up to see Radcliffe’s folly


Radcliffe’s folly


Lovely green spire! made from copper from the nearby Ecton mines.


The Buddha on the wall!


Dragon presence!


The view, looking out from Radcliffe’s folly


A path leading up to top of Ecton Hill


private picnic area


Exploring the area around the folly


Lovely windows!


A tree on the path!


Clearing the path

Listening to Maggi talking about Sir Thomas Wardle, it struck me that this was a different kind of industrialist/entrepreneur to Sir Richard Arkwright. Sir Thomas Wardle seemed more of an ethical entrepreneur and a researcher than Sir. Arkwright. More discussions on this later.

We stopped off for lunch at the Smithy at Monyash before heading back to Sheffield.

Chamu Kuppuswamy

Making a research-practice partnership work

‘Making a research-practice partnership work ‘ was a set of presentations followed by discussion organised by the Research Exchange for the Social Sciences (RESS) of the University of Sheffield on the 31st of January 2014 at The Circle.



Martien Kuitenbrouwer and Dr. David Laws

The centrepiece of the afternoon was an impressive presentation by the Mayor of West Amsterdam Martien Kuitenbrouwer and Dr David Laws from the University of Amsterdam. Between them they talked about city-university working in Amsterdam. A candid and open presentation on the various projects that were undertaken based on various models of working energised the space of research-practice partnership work. They described situations where they went to the brink before being pulled back through innovative strategies to tackle some intractable issues. Changing the ways of working for city officials and academics doesn’t come without causalities and their partnership was no different. They took the risks and took people along with them as they navigated the issues that are thrown up by a highly populated, multi ethnic multi religious, highly economically polarised section of a bustling European city.


Examples of partnership working from Sheffield included our heritage project and a project called Furnace Park. Sharon Squires from Sheffield First Partnership presented her thoughts on collaborative work in the city of Sheffield and talked of the State of Sheffield report that Professor Gordon Dabinett co-authored.

The event acted as a culmination of reflections on the partnership between Hindu Samaj and the Departments of History and Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, thanks to Esme Cleall and Kimberley Marwood and others in the Researching Community Heritage team of UoS. Below is the presentation that Esme prepared for the event.


Chamu and Esme


Professor Gordon Dabinett, Director, Research Exchange for the Social Sciences listening to our presentation


Sharon Squires, Director, Sheffield First Partnership


Chamu Kuppuswamy

Sheffield in a 100 Objects: The Indian touch

‘The story behind it is as important as the object itself’ was the message that staff at the museum store gave us on our night at the museum – oops day at the museum store  🙂 

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We had a fantastic morning visiting Sheffield Museums storage where a large number of art works, social history objects, metal work and archaeological finds are housed, waiting to be displayed. Staff from the Graves gallery and Weston Park museum is busy undertaking conservation work, cataloguing, research and management of these objects. From the 10th of May 2014, Weston Park museum hosts an exhibition featuring objects from the store which speaks to us about Sheffield!           

As we arrived at this unmarked location, we signed in and after introductions had a wonderful tour of the place. It was amazing to see so many things all covered up, wrapped, shelves and storage everywhere, steel cupboards stood row on row, paintings were hung on wire frames which were sliding frames that covered the whole of both sides of the room, skeletons of animals from around the world were wrapped up in polythene, heads of hunted animals were displayed on one side of the wall, draws contained thousands of pieces of knifes and forks and other metal items. The items may not be labelled and displayed with lights carefully shining on them, accompanied by detailed descriptions of their origin, ownership and use, but that did not take away the magic of these objects. In fact, it was fascinating to discover what was in the next cupboard, draw and shelf. Here and there, there was an exposed object, uncovered and eye-catching. A figure in blue and green copper with hands up in the air, head thrown back popped up as we turned around into the corridor, a Japanese looking warrior seemed to be futilely pushing at the shelf as we emerged from the top of the aluminium staircase which led us into the social history section, a long frame collage containing a thousand themes stood beside a door. Orangutan in a box, and oh, the mandatory dinosaur roaming the halls, looking for prey, with flesh hanging from its teeth!

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A gangetic crocodile skull


Staff members were so very professional, friendly and good fun! We looked at metal work first, along with some chance finds from the bronze and copper ages. Cutlery and hollowware were part of the dazzling pieces of silver we got to see, along with the story about the object. A smooth carved stone with a hole in the middle was a stone hammer from the bronze age! A snake headed bracelet, rather tiny, was another chance find in Sheffield. The butterfly tile was a beautiful specimen that we saw from the medieval period, might have been a tile that formed part of an arch like formation in a church. Shinier objects lay in wait for us to see and learn about. A set of cutlery – things that cut were lined up, surgical instruments, tableware, a lovely collection of scissors, knifes, razors, a goblet and a flask are what I can recall from the spread on the table. I was fascinated by a blade with a handle made of Indian buffalo horn, a set of razors in a box, which has ‘Bengall razors’ on the inside of the box written very stylistically on it. An exhibition piece from Bikaner, India formed part of the collection that came from all parts of the world to Sheffield, so its artists could be inspired to learn and make new things.


Bikaner Flask


Scissors with the Chatsworth coat of arms


Lovely bird motifs


Tobacco pipes, earthern bowl, bracelet and other objects


A bowie knife


100th of the 100 knifes made at this artisan knife makers!


Knife with Indian buffalo horn handle

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Moving on from there, we went to view flat art! Paintings by Sheffield artists, or those associated with Sheffield. There was an eclectic collection of paintings, in different styles, from different periods and showing different faces of Sheffield. Industrial Sheffield was well documented, a painting with bold brush strokes showed a bridge and buildings and smoke coming out and filling the sky. Another showed pipes and boilers with a pheasant in the front, happily strolling away! A beautiful one was of Weston Park museum interior, it was made of dim tones, and very alluring and reminiscent of a quieter, different era. There was an impressive ‘green’ painting of Sheffield – Beauchief lane if I remember right, it was wonderful and serene. Another detailed painting was called High street, but it wasn’t one we could recognise as any particular street in Sheffield! A lovely one with a hillside was ‘A road to Sheffield’, one that depicted Sheffield like it was in the middle of nowhere!


The high street


Horses in th lane

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Road to Sheffield!



Our last stop on the morning at the museum store was at the social history section which had Hendersons, Bassetts Allsorts boxes, a line of shoes, hats, and samplers. There was a retro touch to this display. Hendersons made two relish bottles, one for the two football blubs of Sheffield with their respective colours! This was very different to an early very small-sized relish bottle, which drew a comment that perhaps Hendersons relish was more of an expensive delicacy at one point. The shoes were so modern looking, but tiny in size! Embroidery work by children learning to do them were called samplers and a selection of them was on display, one of them was intriguing, in that it was unfinished – why?       


Sheffield Wednesday and United relishes


An old bottle alongside a newer one!


So why did she not finish ?


A shoe from 1975

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My curiosity got the better of me and I asked to see something that I had peered at through the glass window of a cupboard. It was a Krishna statue just as I had suspected from getting a glimpse of its outline! I believe it is a crudely made brass ornament that screws on to the top of a brass lamp! Here it is, what do you think?


The staff members were kind enough to open the cupboard and we looked at more objects from the Indo-Persian collection!


Ravia deciphers writing on the Koran holder using a mobile app!


An exquisite silver box from India made completely of wire


A cool water bowl with fish carvings on the inside!



The fish water bowl from outside

Now, if you so wish a small Indo-Persian contingent from Sheffield could visit the museum store! Let me know. Once we had made our rounds and looked at the objects picked by the staff, we were asked to nominate the objects that we would like to see go into the exhibition. Here’s my selection, and why.


So what happens now?   The project team meets to select the objects (12 or 13 of them) that will go on display. A number of factors will be taken into account when making the selection. The placement students (a masters and UG student from the University of Sheffield) will be researching the stories of these objects more comprehensively.  They will be in conversation with us till the exhibition goes up on the 10th of May at Weston Park museum. It will be on for a few months after that, so do visit and see what you feel about the exhibition. This is a mini exhibition as there isn’t enough money in the pot to do a hundred objects, but the plan is for doing the full 100 objects in the future based on an evaluation of this pilot project.  

 Chamu Kuppuswamy