Favourite Things with Sheffield origami master Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson has enjoyed a varied career, including working in a chip shop, a steelworks, as a teacher, a photographer, paper artist and musician.

Monday, 29th June 2020, 7:55 pm
Updated Monday, 29th June 2020, 7:57 pm

Gaining a BA (hons) at Sheffield Polytechnic, he worked at Weston Park Hospital before launching a career in music, signing to Polydor Records with Typhoon Saturday and upsetting the Bishop of Sheffield (amongst others) with his atheist band Dig Vis Drill.

The arrival of two children obliged him to seek more conventional employment as an adult education tutor, then less conventionally as a professional paper-folder or origamist .

This left-field career choice has seen him write over 85 books on the subject, possibly becoming Sheffield’s most published author?

Nick Robinson at home - with his very own blue plaque

He’s also travelled to America, Japan, Dubai and all around Europe teaching and demonstrating origami. Nick’s website is at http://www.origami.me.uk and he also has a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/nicksorigami

He is still active musically, performing solo as a ‘live looper’ and with his band Das Rad, whose second album Adios Al Futuro was recently released to critical acclaim.

Nick writes: “It’s very tricky to cover my many special Sheffield places in a short article, so sadly I’ve had to rule out Bishop’s House, Bramall Lane, the Lantern Theatre, Sheffield Castle, Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Beauchief Abbey ponds, Lees Hall woods, Bardwells electronic shop, Rare and Racy, Record Collector, Stag Works and many others.”

Brincliffe Edge

Nick Robinson's picture of Queen guitarist Brian May, taken when the band played Sheffield City Hall in 1974

As a child growing up in Nether Edge, this stretch of woodland offered endless fun and plenty of places to hide from the world. The narrow road itself has barely changed since my youth and I can still feel my imagination being engaged when I revisit the area.

As I walked home every day from Carterknowle School, a regular haunt was Jennings’ sweet shop at the foot of Archer Lane, where you could buy a single Black Jack (or Fruit Salad) for a farthing – hard to resist! Nearby on Edgefield Road was the home of my cub and later scout troop, 35th St Oswalds.

The Broadfield pub

I started frequenting this pub at the age of 15 with a pal and remember enjoying Chico’s Jungle Sound disco.

Chico himself kept an eye on us and warned us if there were any coppers checking for under-age drinkers!

Later on, I sat in many times with the Jazz Brotherhood on a Sunday evening – my jazz ‘chops’ were minimal, but they didn’t seem to mind.

I saw bands such as Def Leppard and the Comsat Angels (whom I later joined for a short spell) play there and played many gigs with my own bands. By this time I had my first (damp) bedsit on Machon Bank and, having got hammered at the Wapentake of a Saturday night, regularly took the hair of the dog in the Broadfield over a game of pool on Sunday lunch.

Sheffield City Hall

Being an avid rock music fan, I went to hundreds of gigs there, including Led Zeppelin Deep Purple, King Crimson, Mott the Hoople and many others.

Tickets were often beyond my pocket money(!) so I used to skive off school and help the roadies carry in the gear. This almost always meant I could then sit on the seats that used to be behind the stage and enjoy the show for free, as well as take some great photographs.

The venue was a place of magic for so many people, which is part of the reasons I started the Sheffield Music Archive website with my brother. Over the years, my tastes have expanded to include classical and comedy shows as well as countless music gigs, but the thrill is still there as I enter the doors.

Graves Park

My parents took me there and as a teenager I went to many open-air rock concerts in this fabulous park, which has something for everyone.

We regularly took our children there on the bus, especially after the Rare Breeds Centre opened.

I now live close to the park and regularly visit to see my favourite tree near the sports pavilion.

I worry the council seem prepared to cash in on the park by selling parts of it and urge readers to support The Friends of Graves Park to ensure the future of this amazing space as a public resource.

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