The Silk Road Gallery is a shop on Sheffield’s Sharrowvale Road run by Peter Bennion and Kay Wallace.
The Silk Road Gallery sells the vintage textiles, objects, art and photographs from the lands of The Silk Road that have been our enduring passion for the last 48 years.
How did we get here?
Textiles were in my life even before university (I did a degree in the Chemistry of Textile Dyeing) and in Morocco I fell in love with the natural colours and traditional patterns of Berber blankets". For several years we made trips to Morocco and commissioned blankets, painted mirrors and other exotic home furnishings.
We love handmade things because they illuminate the soul, the tradition and the observation of the maker – they offer a view of the world.
Basket with Woven Fabric and Beads from Nagaland
In the late eighties we opened The Futon Shop which grew into the Natural Bed Company where we designed and made contemporary wooden beds that still sell around the world.
Vintage Textile with Embroidery, Mirrors, Shells
Something that lets the light in
So, 45 years later, we've retired from the Natural Bed Company and here we are back with our roots! Whether we’re looking for furniture, bedspreads, paintings, carvings or everyday objects, what we’re really searching for is the handmade, beautiful and unusual. That’s how we started out and those are still our guidelines - the search for something inspiring in its beauty, something that lets the light in!
We don’t describe any products as antique, but some, including many of the textiles from Gujarat and Rajasthan, are vintage mid 20th century or older. The collection from Afghanistan was gathered together in the 70’s and 80’s and the textiles from Laos about 10 years ago. The Tibet collection originates from Tibet or Tibetan communities living in India and Nepal.
The photographs from India, Tibet and Nepal are taken by Peter. These include the subterranean architecture of the ancient Stepwells of Rajasthan & Gujarat and the landscape & Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh, Tibet and the Buddhist Himalaya.
Finely inlaid Indian wooden mirror with shelves
We have a longstanding affection for this part of the world and we visit India on a regular basis, searching out obscure places to visit and unusual items to buy. If you want to contact us we’re always happy to share our travel knowledge and connections.
The Silk Road
The Silk Road was a trading and cultural caravan route between China and Venice with many side roads extending down into India. At the northern tip of India is the region of Ladakh where Buddhist culture exists as an extension of the Tibetan plateau. Until China annexed Tibet in 1949 and closed the border with India, caravans travelled south from Yarkand to Ladakh with wool and salt in exchange for cotton and spices. We’re regular visitors to Ladakh and our blogs include photos and accounts of some of our trekking experiences.
Camel caravans extended even further south to the desert towns of Rajasthan where traders would rest by wells providing water and relief from the heat of the dry season. These Stepwells are subterranean architectural wonders built over the last thousand years to access water in a land where the water table rises and falls with the seasons. Today they are often dry and forgotten, hard to find and dramatically beautiful - and are the main subject of Peter's photographs.
Here you can watch our new video The Stepwells of Bundi.
Take a slide show tour round the Silk Road Gallery
We're passionate about living in Sheffield, it's full of Places We Really Love!
The Silk Road Gallery is in the middle of Sharrow Vale Road with it's eclectic mix of independent cafes and shops as well as the Sharrow Vale Market.
Check out some of our friends and neighbours along the Sharrow Vale Road and beyond:
Just around the corner, Barra Organics is an award winning, family run business. Their fantastic range of local and speciality produce attracts regular customers from across the region.
Round the back of Gilbert and Sons is the amazing Vintage Tableware Company who sell and hire, you guessed it, vintage tableware. An extraordinary beautiful collection of crockery, glassware and the rest.
Trapeze Kids is a kid's shop with a difference, they stock a carefully curated selection of clothing, toys, books and gifts from suppliers with an ethically responsible ethos. Their books include Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls - 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, which we bought for a young friend in India.
Ora Gallery is renowned for a contemporary collection of jewellery, gifts and cards including locally sourced craft items.
Sheffield is renowned for artisan bakeries and just down the road is Seven Hills Bakery which also has a spacious cafe - seating indoors and outside - and fruit and veg you can buy loose, hoorah to that! They also do food and wine tastings.
No more than a mile away are some other unique independents:
Natural Bed Company was founded many years ago by Peter and Kay and is now in the safe hands of Caro and Paula Whiteside. A unique business that manufactures high quality contemporary hardwood beds in Sheffield and sells world wide. The beds were designed by Peter.
Forge Bakehouse is a cafe on Abbeydale Road with a fantastic selection of bread, food options and wonderful frangipani tart!
Nearby on Abbeydale Road, Swallows and Damsons is a superb florists that create wonderful colour combinations - that's what comes from a Fine Art Degree! And the shop smells wonderful!
Lembas is the place to go for bulk whole food supplies and is where Peter buys his 5Kg bags of their excellent muesli.