Yorkshire artists collaborate on landmark project for north Sheffield

Two leading South Yorkshire artists are working on an exciting project due to be unveiled at north Sheffield’s Fox Valley development when it opens next year.

The popular artist Pete McKee has used his unique style to create a “Fox Family” of characters who will feature in the artwork and branding at the new £50 million retail and office complex.

As well as designing signage, branding and a striking piece of gable end artwork, Pete has also been tasked with lifting one of his characters right off the page and bringing it to life in a sculpture, which will stand 6ft 4in tall and weigh more than a tonne once it’s completed.

He’s now working with the Sheffield sculptor Anthony Bennett to create the stunning piece of art of Grandfather Fox. The piece will be cast in bronze and will stand in pride of place at the entrance to the new town centre development.

Pete’s iconic style has graced everything from cartoon strips to Paul Smith clothing and Oasis record covers but this is the first time one of his images has been made in bronze and the Fox Valley piece will be the largest “McKee” ever created.

Based in Sheffield, Anthony has worked on a multitude of projects worldwide including the famous bronze sculpture at the Enchanting World of Beatrix Potter in Cumbria, unveiled in 2006. Anthony is known for his artistic collaborations with other artists, and as co-conceiver of the University of Sheffield’s acclaimed “Festival of The Mind”. His project “Swarfhorse”, sculptures made from ‘swarf’, created with Sheffield’s last jobbing grinder Brian Alcock, was exhibited in The Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, in 2013.

The first step in the Fox Valley sculpture has been to model a detailed clay sculpture of Pete’s Grandfather Fox character, which will be moulded and then cast into bronze, employing the ‘lost wax’ process, at Bronze Age foundry in London.

Anthony said: “It’s a real pleasure to be working with Pete on such an exciting project for north Sheffield and to be part of the Fox Valley development.”

"This is a really long and detailed process and from start to completion it will have taken around 12 months to complete. We are literally taking an image and creating it in 3D so I have to look at all the detail and how it will look from every angle to recreate the character.”

The sculpture will be placed on a raised plinth on the new roundabout at the entrance to the Fox Valley development which is due to open in spring 2016.

Grandfather Fox is pointing to the entrance with his traditional paragon framed umbrella – first developed by the famous industrialist Samuel Fox close to the Fox Valley site in the 1850’s.

Pete said: “This is a fantastic project to be involved with as an artist and it’s been great working with Anthony bringing the Grandfather Fox figure into a sculpture form. The clay sculpture looks great and I can’t wait to see the finished piece cast in bronze when the development opens next year.”

The next phase of Pete’s artwork project will be to start on the gable end artwork once the brickwork has been completed on the largest of the new retail blocks at the centre.

Head of Communications at Dransfield Properties, Amanda Holmes, said: “We’re delighted to be working with two of our region’s leading artists and it really is lovely to see Pete’s artwork coming to life and taking shape now.

“This is a unique development with a long and rich history and we really wanted to create something distinctive, fun and unique with the artwork. It great to see the attention to detail in Anthony’s piece – even down to the tip of the umbrella!


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