Hustlers Of Culture Look To Launch Spode Based Printing Workshops
Sean Dissington || September 30th
Stories are funny things. They aren't history, they're not a dry legal recounting of facts, but neither are they necessarily fiction. Stories are where hope lives, where joy waits to be found and where truth reigns; for stories tell us what we want rather than what is. Stories hold a mirror to the world and they force us to look. So this is a story, about passion, about ink and about pride.
Many of you will know that I've arrived late to the “falling in love with Stoke” party, as someone who's not a businessman, and doesn't consider himself to be particularly creative the business led growth of some parts of the city has delighted me, and inspired me – but it was not by me, or even for me – as great as it has been.
2016 has been the year I feel Stoke-on-Trent stepped out of its own shadow, it's the year that the city that took clay and gave the world beauty has started to bang its own drum for the world to hear; and its wonderful that art and creativity have been driving that. We have a city centre that's finally feeling like the centre of this federation of towns, we have new buildings, projects restarting and art and music are wherever you wish to look. It's one of those that I'm writing about today.
Asking for help is a beautiful thing, there are few more ways that a person or group of people can show trust in you, than by asking for your help. When I saw the Kickstarter from Entrepreneurs this morning I backed it immediately, because I've had the privilege of meeting the guys and having some understanding of what they are passionate about, but here I'm going to tell you why I think you should help them, no matter how much money you can, or can't spare.
Rob Fenton is an unassuming guy, he's friendly and chatty. When he's working it the shop that he co-owns with Tom Edwards and Andy Cooke he’s genuinely interested in every person who walks through the doors. He will talk about sneakers and graffiti and photography with a passion that's rarely seen, until you start to talk to him about Stoke-on-Trent.
I spent a few hours in his company this morning talking about the plans that the boys have for the kickstarter funds. Essentially they are planning a massive expansion of their printing workshops to inspire, educate and facilitate a creative growth in the city in the realm of printing and craft arts. The new printing workshop is to be based in the Acava studios in Spode at Stoke, and will see the coming together of the creative resurgence of Stoke town, and the business regeneration that's happening at Piccadilly right now.
Stoke town with Pilgrims Pit, Gallery 116 and Valentines’ is a hotbed of creativity right now. There are ideas pouring out of Stoke, and with the provision of a properly equipped print room there will be classes for beginners, access to equipment for other creatives and facilities that outdo those offered by the university. All of this located on the Spode site. I don't want to say that this is some kind of spiritual homecoming for art, but that.
There's something special about print, the feel of the paper, the sound it makes as you move it, and the smell of the ink. Who hasn't received a glossy brochure and revelled in the smell of the inks? Print is a sensory experience, it's the first experience we have of making ourselves and in an increasingly digital word it carries an authenticity that other media simply cannot rival.
If this project goes ahead students will get access to the talent of Tom Edwards, a passionate illustrator and Jay, a print artist with so much passion for the project he’s relocated to Stoke from London to be part of it.
If this project goes ahead businesses will be able to keep their money local, grow local talent and watch with pride as a new generation of artists express themselves in colour, in text and illustration.
If this project goes ahead it will be another success for this city, another thing to shout about, the city that paid for its own print studio; that let business and art students and curious creatives keen to learn be part of it.
Best of all, if this project goes ahead, we can say “We did that”.
Andy, Rob and Tom have been behind some of the most daring and successful expressions of creativity in the city. From murals to lectures in design, from the Stoke 2020 bid design to idea sharing and networking; there are benefits we all enjoy that simply wouldn't exist without them. As someone who is passionate about Stoke, but ill equipped to partake creatively I feel supporting this project is a way of redressing the debt owed.