I’m sitting here writing this on my last day manning The Art Shed. I joined this group of artists just over two years ago and it feels like it’s been a second home for my little business. It’s the day before we pack everything up and move on to other things. I’ve had a little while to get used to the idea, but wandering around here on my last shift, it feels very sad.
It’s been a quiet day with a handful of very enthusiastic human visitors and one dog (always a highlight!) Our human visitors (and probably the dog too) are all very sad we are closing and have been such wonderful supporters of all the artists that have made up the Art Shed during the time it’s been open, even helping us win Muddy Stilettos awards year after year. I guess someone else can have a turn next time!!
Happily, this isn’t the end of the Art Shed, just of our time at The Medicine Garden. While I’ve grown hugely fond of this beautiful location, I’m excited to see where these changes take us. Please follow The Art Shed on Facebook to hear where you might find us in the future.
Work by Oorla Morgan, Stephanie Wright, Pratima Kramer, Louisa Sullivan, Jojo Rowley, Sophie de Taranto, Claire Hardwick-Wilson, Sarah Simonds-Gooding, Joe Szabo and Naomi Beevers.
I’ve been a supporter of the ‘Just a Card’ campaign since hearing about it on Twitter a little while ago. The idea is to spread the word that even the smallest of purchases matter hugely to small businesses. Whether it be a card, badge or other item that only cost a few pounds, those few pounds from everyone who walks in the door can be the difference from a shop staying open and closing forever.
Supporting of small shops is very close to my heart having built up and lost my own alternative gift shop in a very short space of time. The frustrating thing is I had a group of regular, really enthusiastic customers that completely loved what I was doing, but they didn’t act or spread the word quick enough.
A good few years on with the power of social media it’s so much easier to get the word out about great products and businesses, and, crucially, free. So if you love a shop, designer or even your local butcher, baker or candlestick maker – tell everyone and use them. Often! It might be easier for businesses to reach their customer than when I was doing it but with ever growing rent, rates and a billion other costs being thrown at them it’s tougher than ever. My partner now has a high street print and IT shop so once again, our household relies on two small businesses to keep ticking over. Will we ever learn? No. Because we love what we do.
I design and make my jewellery from my home studio and sell through a cooperative gallery, The Art Shed, online through Etsy and also through a handful of the most wonderful quirky independent shops and galleries run by amazing people. The prompt for this post came when I learned this week that one former stockist had recently closed it’s doors and another has been forced to close at the end of the month. This makes me truly sad. It makes me want to go into my local Tesco superstore and march all those people in that greeting card aisle out and down the road to their nearest independent instead!
Being part of a cooperative, I get the best of both worlds. It’s like having a little bit of my own shop again as well as an outlet to sell my work. We sell items costing £1 and items costing £1000. Sometimes I think people feel embarrassed spending just a pound or two but if I told you that some days, gift shops get through that day ONLY selling cards then you see the importance. I want to give every single customer a little hug, but don’t because that would surely guarantee I’d never see them again.
If you want to see all the amazing shops that sell Shutter Jewellery see here.
Check out the Just a Card campaign here.
And to prove this isn’t just for personal plugs, here are a few small businesses I have absolutely no affiliation with, but I’d be pretty devastated if they ceased to exist: Pug and Puffin, Lyme Regis : Funky dog stuff Juju, Brighton : Amazing quirky clothing Sophie’s Chocolates, Chesham : Chocolate only for people called Sophie(!) The Dough Shack, various locations : THE best pizza Khao Sarn, Walton on Thames : THE best Thai The Simon Drew Gallery, Dartmouth : My favourite illustrator, with the best puns Pixxie Rose on Etsy : Handmade clothing in insane fabrics RichardsonRichardson on Etsy : Acrylic jewellery (my best friend and I want about 70% of their collection between us) Littlehampton Exotics : Great reptile shop, of which so many have closed in the last few years Pampered Pets, Hersham : Where my mutt gets his hair chopped.
In January 2017, I joined a cooperative of 15 artists who together run The Art Shed at The Medicine Garden in Cobham, Surrey. The garden is a stunning location and perfect for such a group as there is much inspiration to be found in the grounds and surrounding countryside, which is reflected in many of the artists’ work.
There is a varied mix of work at The Art Shed, with disciplines including glasswork, photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics and textiles. Below are some of my favourite pieces.
The gallery is open from 10am, seven days a week, each day manned by an artist who displays their work here. You might even see some work in progress. Below: Photography by Sue Roche with ceramics and glass works by Jojo Rowley, Su Rogers and Louisa Sullivan.
Above : Linda Walsh (textiles), Pratima Kramer, Naomi Beevers, Stephanie Wright (ceramics), Clare Hardwick Wilson (Painting / contemporary art) and Pratima Kramer, Jojo Rowley, Jo Mabbutt (Lace / Decorative Art ) Below: Oorla Morgan, Sophie de Taranto (Jewellery)
For more information on the Art Shed visit here. We hope to see you soon!