About Us

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?

In 1974 we opened a shop at Nether Green called Freewheelin’. We made waterbeds from roofing joists salvaged from demolition yards and sold local hand thrown pottery, Indian bedspreads, framed art posters and not much more. Our timing was right and we grew. “In the mid seventies I went to Morocco for the first time and was immediately in my element - the dramatic desert landscape and the vibrant souks of Marrakech full of colour, sounds, smells and wonderful artisan crafts.
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. 
Afghan Tent band
Friends brought back tribal clothing and hangings from Afghanistan, knitwear from Peru. We opened a clothing shop called Another Side. A couple of years later we made our first trip to India and opened an 'ethnic department store' - Bringing It All Back Home. 
Bringing It All Back Home
It was a huge move to a much larger building but, again, the timing was right. Walking into Bringing It All Back Home was like entering an ancient bazaar somewhere on the Old Silk Road. Twelve rooms over three floors given over to clothes, shoes, Afghan furniture, Rajasthan embroidery, ceramics...  and a wholefood cafe.
For some nostalgia and to see some photos, take a look at our blog From Bringing It All Back Home to the Silk Road Gallery

We love handmade things because they illuminate the soul, the tradition and the observation of the maker – they offer a view of the world.

Nagaland BasketBasket 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. 

Embroidery from GujaratVintage 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!

Gond PaintingLarge Gond Painting of Birds and a Tree

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.

Inlaid Indian MirrorFinely 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.

Meditating HandsPhoto of Meditating Hands, Jain Statue, Gwalior

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.

Ponies Dscending from the Zarlung Karpo La, Ladakh.jpgPhoto of our ponies at the Zarlung Karpo Pass, Ladakh

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.

Nawalgarh StepwellPhoto of the Stepwell at Lohargal, Shekawati

Take a slide show tour round the Silk Road Gallery