Sheffield-based artist Martin F Bedford is showcasing his work this month in a solo exhibition of music poster designs at the Stancill Brewery-owned Closed Shop pub.

The exhibition displays some of Martin’s finest posters that document the history of Sheffield’s live music scene. Entitled 40 Years of Rock ’n’ Roll, this body of work charts the talent of a graphic artist whose career was born and cultivated in the Steel City. Martin has lived in Sheffield for more than 40 years and produced a large volume of famous posters for both local and international gigs.

Martin F BedfordMartin (pictured) famously co-founded the Leadmill, Sheffield’s hub of rock ‘n’ roll, after moving to the city as a young art student. Acquiring a degree in fine art, he started to design music posters for gigs hosted by the iconic club, often turning out his work within the same afternoon.

Working with Leadmill founders John Redfern, Chris Andrews, Adrian Vincan and Phil Mills, Martin was a pioneer of the music scene in Sheffield during the 1980s. The art and music of the Leadmill transformed the surrounding industrial area into a cultural hot spot that remains popular today with music fans and students alike.

After spending 12 years creating Leadmill posters for an array of big names including John Cooper Clarke, The Pogues and The Fall, Martin was renowned for the fearless DIY style of his work and its political edge. His posters are informed by psychedelia and punk rock culture, skilfully screen-printed with bold colours.

When his stint at Leadmill ended in the 1990s, he continued to create innovative posters as a freelance artist and has since published books of his designs.

Martin attributes his illustrious career in graphic design to his ongoing aversion to be tied down to a ‘proper job’. This creative ‘aversion strategy’ has blossomed into a sojourning career for the artist, from managing bands, venues and pubs to designing décor, promoting exhibitions and starting the Honey Bee Blues Club, his own club night. Ever an integral part of Sheffield’s musical history, Martin has remained close to music even as his career has evolved in new directions.

Live music

Closed Shop manager, Hayley Mcphie, said: “At The Closed Shop we celebrated the exhibition’s opening night with some great live music from Benjamin Bassford, who is one of Martin’s favourite musicians of the moment. Our sister pub the Norfolk Arms will also be hosting lots of live music on Saturday nights over the next few months, including the Swing Town Cats on January 27, a local band who spin a fresh twist on classic songs.

“Alongside playing host to some Sheffield musical talent, we’re booking local independent vendors to serve street food at the gigs, to really bring people together and enjoy the best of what the city has to offer.

“Sheffield’s culture is something we really value and we think it should be embraced. Hosting Martin’s work is a fantastic way for us to kick off a year of local music and beer.”

• 40 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll runs at The Closed Shop until February 1.

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