24 to 27 May

The next retreat as part of our Syllabus III programme is hosted by programme partner S1 Artspace in Sheffield. Please note we have selected the participants for Syllabus III.

Syllabus III artists Frederica Agbah, Chris Alton, Conor Baird, Ilker Cinarel, Phoebe Davies, Freya Dooley, Rose Gibbs, Jill McKnight, Ben Sanderson and Karis Upton are visiting Birmingham for their sixth retreat, hosted in Sheffield by S1 Artspace.

The artists will have 1:1 sessions with this year's lead artists, Jesse Darling and Harold Offeh. In the evening, dinner at Foodhall will be accompanied with a session of Youtube Cinema.

Harold Offeh will lead a performance workshop entitled "The Body as a Tool". The workshop will explore the idea of using the body as material, a tool or a weapon. The session will explore a number activities, starting with some warm up exercises like Erwin Wurm's One Minute Sculpture and Allan Kaprow's scores. The group will do some physical actualising, loosely based on Augusto Boal's actions. These will involve making tableaux of particular concepts and ideas using our bodies, posing and gestures. We will re-visit the question, what's your problem? but other questions and statements are welcome. This will be followed by Selfie Choreography, where participants are invited to use a selfie stick (provided) and smartphone (not provided - individuals needs to bring their own) as an apparatus to capture the body, space, movement and gesture. The session will conclude with Choreograph Us, a workshop where the group individually generates a series of instructions that are then used and performed collectively. The aim is to create a series of experiences that the group can speak to and discuss.

In the afternoon, Social and cultural historian Dr Helen Smith will lead a walking tour of one of Sheffield’s oldest industrial districts Kelham Island. The island was formed in the 1180s when a channel was created to carry water from the River Don to the Town Corn Mill. Much of the early history of the island after this time is unknown until 1637 when the town armourer, Kellam Homer set up a grinding workshop and waterwheel on the island. In the 1800s, other industries began to spring up in the Kelham area and Kelham Island itself became a host for all kinds of manufacturers including Kelham Iron Works. In the 1890s the site was bought by the City. The Iron Works buildings were demolished and an electricity generating station was built in their place, to provide power for the City’s new tram system. The power station was in operation until the 1930s, after which the buildings were used as storage space and workshops. After the tour, the group will return to S1 to explore some of the themes raised in Helen’s book, Masculinity, Class and Same-Sex Desire in Industrial England, 1895-1957.

In the afternoon Syllabus and Tough Matter will host a multi-disciplinary live event at Delcious Clam, which will explore the construction (and queering) of gender as well as Sheffield’s industrial past and post-industrial present through performance, voice and video. 


In the morning, artist Imran Perretta will host a conversation discussing the cultural construction of masculinity in urban environments in relation to music scenes and political events/particular moments in history. In exploring how personhood is formulated by visual cultures, Perretta will draw on his own teenagehood of watching grime videos in the mid 2000s.

This will be followed by a vocal facilitation workshop with Randolph Mathews, which will explore three main exercises: 1. Evolution of sound: primitive animal sounds and how they occupy different spaces of the body. 2. Vocal chord range: exploring the “different instruments in our vocal range". 3. Exploring unvocalised words or phrases.

For Saturday's dinner, South Street Kitchen are making a vegan and vegetarian feast. The food is Middle Eastern inspired, and will be big sharing bowls of goodness for everyone to help themselves. There will also be some wine provided with dinner. 


The weekend will close with a drawing workshop over breakfast and a reflective planning session.


Helen Smith

Helen is a social and cultural historian who is fascinated by masculinity, sexuality, class and the impact that region had on people's identities in the 20th century, particularly in the north of England. Smith works in Lincoln but lives in Sheffield, which remains an inspiration due to its industrial past and strong workingclass identity. Her first book, Masculinity, Class and Same-Sex Desire in Industrial England, 1895-1957 was published in 2015 and while still working on those ideas, she is also beginning a new project on work, youth culture and the impact that the de-industrialisation of the 1970s and 80s had on gender identities.

Imran Perretta

Imran Perretta’s work addresses biopower, marginality and the (de)construction of cultural histories. His multi-disciplinary practice encompasses the moving-image, sound, performance and poetry. Recent exhibitions include Unintended Consequences: Jerwood/FVU Awards at Jerwood Space, London, SHIFT at RCA Dyson Gallery, London, Mene Mene Tekel Parsin at Wysing Arts Centre, UK; brother to brother for JVA Solo Presentations, Jerwood Space, London; it wasn't a crash, in the usual sense, Arcadia Missa, London; Pale News (in collaboration with Milo van der Maaden) commissioned by the Chisenhale Gallery and performed in Victoria Park, London. Perretta is based in London.

Randolph Matthews

Randolph Matthews is a vocal performer, facilitator and coach from London who is inspired by the belief that the power of the voice can change people’s lives. Performing and recording unaccompanied or with his band, Randolph's vocal performances span over two decades where he has collaborated with artists for both the Jazz, blues and contemporary music scene. His training in voice started at Goldsmiths College and then lead him to the United States in 2004 to study Voice Movement Therapy, working with the voice in an explorational context in different communities. He is passionate about ensuring that people are able to access what the voice can do in an inspired way and that the use of evidence-based techniques are used across his practice. Randolph works with clients of all ages in both community and music industry settings.

Tough Matter

Tough Matter is a collaborative project co-founded by artists Ashley Holmes and Vicky Hayward. It is a platform that facilitates experimentation, collective activity and conversations around music and visual arts. Material produced as part of the project includes a series of artist commissions, interviews, live shows and radio broadcasts.