A Man of Steel


I thought I’d show you one of Sheffield’s best known faces. I can’t tell you who he is, but I can tell you that this brick mural was based on the image of a real steelworker. Some adaptations to the man’s appearance were made to allow the image to be created from coloured bricks.

“The eyes had to be enlarged, for example, or the pupils and the whites would have been smaller than a brick.”
Paul Waplington

After an adjoining building was demolished, the City Council commissioned artist Paul Waplington to design the mural. The Council’s Works Department then constructed it.

What are this image’s vital statistics? Estimates seem to vary: everyone quotes the number of bricks used at 30000 and the number of types of mortar used is usually given as 5. The number of different types of bricks that were used is unclear – some sources say 12, others 18. I tried to count them for myself and came up with a different figure, so I won’t add to the confusion! The differences in the colours of the various mortars seem to have become less noticeable over time, perhaps the same has happened to some of the bricks.

The mural was built in 1986, the year when I moved to Sheffield. There is another great shot of it here.

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