This is a self-led activity to be experienced at a time of your choosing.
Wadsley Church cemetery in north Sheffield is home to a mass grave: 2,500 people who died at the nearby mental asylum between 1872 and 1948. A small plaque, erected in 2012, is the only evidence of this tragic, hidden history.
Earlier this year, Mexican-British artist Helen Blejerman created a series of artworks, ‘A Visual Theory of the Soul’, based on the living flora of the churchyard and in memory of the 2,500 unnamed ‘pauper souls’ buried there. In this downloadable guided walk, Helen takes the drawings as the starting point for an exploration of life, death, nature and memory. Combining poetry and sensory invitation, she introduces you to The University of Sheffield’s Dr Julia Banwell’s research on death and visual cultures and invites you to experience a renewed connection with your surroundings.
Part of an ongoing Arts and Humanities Knowledge Exchange project at The University of Sheffield: Soil and Soul. Before experiencing the podcast, we invite you to view Helen’s drawings here.
Content warning: includes references to death and grief that some listeners may find triggering.
Text and Voice: Helen Blejerman
Audio Production and Music: Kitty Turner
Image: Helen Blejerman, URTICA DIOICA — Common nettle, 2020