‘Real ale has replaced real graft in Sheffield.’
So says the caption for one of Pete McKee’s new paintings, Lexicon of Pub, which was on display at what he says will be his last exhibition about his home city.
Just under 3,000 people flocked to The Joy of Sheff, a one-day unveiling of 35 paintings at The Blue Shed in Brightside Lane.
It was his biggest and most ambitious exhibition to date, capturing the fabric of Sheffield society and everyday experiences for which he has become renowned.
Meanwhile, sculpture, ceramics and film signalled a move into less familiar territory.
Video footage depicting cutlery making traditions paid homage to the city’s industrial past, while a bust of the late Margaret Thatcher complete with stark illustrations was one of the first pieces to greet visitors.
Pete, whose work appears in the Sheffield Telegraph, said: “There will be paintings in future that are from and about Sheffield, but in terms of a complete exhibition based on pictures about the city this will probably be the last one.”
Seven hundred visitors travelled from the city centre to the Attercliffe art space in a 60s double decker supplied by Pete, complete with a 2p fare.
“Saturday was a fantastic day,” he said. “I’ve never experienced a turn out like it at any of my exhibitions. It was overwhelming. I hope everyone left with a big smile on their face.”