Located in the Old Brewery by the river on the edge of Alston, Brewhouse Studios is a new initiative combining the talents and experience of Julia Neubauer, a well established textile designer and facilitator with those of Sophie Howgego a textile artist who is just starting out as a business. The studio complex will have a separate studio for each artist combined with a workshop/events area. There is also a large exhibition space adjacent to the studios that can be used on an ad hoc basis for larger events.
During the Covid 19 lockdown, Julia joined the Alstonscrubbers, a local hub, making Scrubs for the NHS. 12 local women have spent the last few weeks working together to raise money and to make scrubs from whatever they had to hand. Some wonderful colourful creations were made from duvet covers and dyed in fabulous colours as well as the more traditional ones. The communication and coordination was via a WhatsApp group. It became a highlight of the day to see what the other sewers had been making. After the demand for scrubs tailed off it was apparent that there was a renewed interest in making clothing, masks and bags for themselves. Even the non sewers who helped with transport and cutting out were inspired to start making. The group then started asking about meeting up after the lockdown and getting together to learn more techniques. Julia was inspired to start looking at options to facilitate this. She came across a large office space and teamed up with Sophie Howgego to investigate renting the space.
As designer makers, Julia and Sophie are both aware of the isolation that working from home or from a solely occupied studio can create, especially in a rural setting. The plan is to give each other mutual support as well as reaching out to other artists and makers. They hope to create a comfortable, safe, welcoming space to meet/ share ideas and provide training opportunities, both formally and on a pop in basis. It will be a place to share resources, experiences and knowledge. Networking, collaborations and collective working practices will be key elements to the project with a shared marketing initiative also planned.
Pop up events to promote locally produced goods combining with local businesses and markets are envisaged, to increase footfall to the area.
A range of drop in craft sessions and timetabled longer courses are central to the project to promote wellbeing and combat social isolation through creativity. Building confidence, skill sharing and the preservation of traditional crafts will be central to the project.
The project aims to recycle and upcycle as much as possible to create a contemporary space that people will enjoy being in.