Portsmouth and Southsea is a hotbed of creative folk. I know so many seriously talented artists and makers that reside on this small island so when a new creative hotspot opens up; a gallery, an art shop or studio… an excited buzz happens and people flock to check out the new creative quarter.
The Hotwalls Studios is the newest addition to our area and I had been anticipating it’s launch since the first whisperings of the project… Working at Making Space I have a thing for studio spaces and The Hotwalls Studios promised to be something quite special. Lynne, our lovely director also sat on the selection panel so I was privy to a sneak peek of the new tenants… all very exciting!
Making use of the old artillery barracks (or arches) in Old Portsmouth which, whilst good for a photos opp and the very much loved pop up free art shop were for the most part unused and a waste of a good spot (if you ask me… apparently some of the local residents definitely didn’t agree). The arches have been transformed into 13 beautiful working studios. They have been done so well… As the architecture is a listed property the builders weren’t not allowed to make any big changes to the structure so whilst conserving the much loved historic buildings they’ve also given a massive boost to local creative businesses. Double Yay!
Walls as left as they were, grafitti, exposed brick, pipework etc and it’s these unique qualities which give the studios their character and personality. A feature we loved was that the arched walk ways which connected the arches we left in place, an rather the bricking them up windows were put in which connected the studios together, a lovely feature which allows the tenants to connect with their neighbours whist still having the separate spaces.
In addition to the new studios, they have also built The Canteen, which I experienced the other day and loved (I’ll do a proper post on this soon!) But tucked away in the corner, with an amazing terrace literally on the edge of the sea, it’s going to be a new eating favourite I’m sure! I’ve yet to take Maxwell but I’m thinking an early evening spot outside and sharing platter for 2 might be on the cards!!
The transformation is amazing and Maxwell and I enjoyed the excitement and buzz on the opening night! Almost all of the studios were open when we visited (which was lovely) and there is a varied and talented mix of artists/makers who have made The Hotwalls their creative home…
You can check out all the makers here, but I’d like to share with you all a few of my faves/friends as I’m especially proud of them!
The first studio we checked out was of my lovely friend Alice Hume… You may recognise her name as I did a weaving course with her back in 2015 (and wrote about it here)
Alice creates the most beautiful and tactile navajo inspired weaves. Her studio was full of looms and yarns and big ol’ proud smiles from her lovely parents.
The next studio that really caught my was Alex of refold who makes “Slow Sustainable Handmade Furoshiki”. A furoshiki is a versatile Japanese wrapping cloth – a square piece of fabric which can be folded and knotted into various bags or used to wrap gifts for special occasions.
Alex is passionate about environmental sustainability her beautiful work features geometric patterns and stitch and her dyed sample sketchbooks were beautiful!
After that was the lovely ladies of The Makers Table. A collective of three contemporary artists; Sarah Radford, Ruth Lacey & Emma Plato whose influences stem from vintage design and their immediate environment.
Between the three of them they create silver jewellery, mixed media sculpture and artworks, surface design, print, watercolour, drawing and textiles!
Next up was the studio which I wanted to move into, Home of the amazing Scared Obscene. A partnership of two traditional creatives on an exciting new venture. Purveyors of fine textile interiors, grand décor, art installation and apparel, The Sacred obscene take an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary craft.
With a focus on utilising the new space to experiment with large scale projects; The Sacred Obscene intend to create a dynamic and diverse work and show space. Creating functional and beautiful pieces using a range of traditional techniques, such as hand-weaving/upholstery/furniture restoration/embroidery and print making.
(I nabbed that from the website as I couldn’t have worded it better myself)
There studio was the stuff of creative dreams. Evert surface a collection of beautiful and gorgeous trims, flowers, textiles, spools, printing blocks… Talk about studio envy!
Moving on we encountered ceramicists, printmakers, artists, textile artists and photographers…
We ended our visit in the shared studio of Emma Nicol (who creates the amazing machine embroidered textiles above) and my awesome talented friend Laura Bennett.
Inspired by nature and organic forms, Laura’s ranges of beautiful hand-made jewellery are sympathetically composed from the combination of precious metals and precious / semi-precious stones. She works instinctively, exploring the natural qualities of the materials used, the collections celebrate the fragile forms found in nature, creating beautifully delicate pieces to treasure.
I have always loved Laura’s work and am so proud and happy that she’s finally got a proper studio space, she’s destined for big things this lady!!
So there you have it… My little review of the new Hotwalls Studios and what a marvellous review it is! A real treasure in Portsmouth & Southsea’s creative crown and somewhere I am sure I will check out regularly!
Well done all and congrats to all the makers!