Issue 206
Winter 2018/19

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Mar 19, 2019

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Making it – in Stirling

Frances Anderson experiences the energy and enthusiasm behind a flourishing arts hub in Stirling

Castle Night, by Stewart Brown – an artist sharing in the King St experience

STIRLING IS CELEBRATING the opening of its newest creative venture, 44 King Street, a creative hub on the city's High Street. In collaboration with local partners, Creative Stirling launched the hub to work with the creative community of Stirling to find and forge new pathways for ideas and opportunities.

The hub at 44 King Street has meeting, event and social spaces and a gallery venue to showcase new talent. It's a melting pot, a space where people and ideas come together to collaborate, and a wide range of workshops and events have already taken place with many more planned for the future.

From students and school age children, to enterprise start-ups and specialist artisan makers, it aims to be accessible to everyone across the creative sector. In line with Creative Stirling's co-operative ethic to support learning, enterprise and skills development, 44 King Street is supported by a wide range of partners with a specific focus on the creative and heritage sectors that are key aspects of Stirling's plans for economic growth. It is space committed to the creative industries and traditional artisan economy in Stirling.

Joe Hall, director of Creative Stirling, who founded the not-for-profit in 2012, says: "This new hub is designed to be a place for discovery and inspiration, for developing skills, for support of early stage creatives that is sector relevant. A place to connect with local business, heritage, culture and bring something fresh and exciting to what Stirling can offer visitors as well as our own communities."

In addition to the Made in Stirling store, 44 King Street is also home to Creative Stirling, the Stirling Place Partnership, GOForth BID (Business Improvement District) and The Kitchen@44. At its core, spanning the length of the ground floor is the award winning 'Made in Stirling' (MIS) store, a carefully curated 'show and sell' concept, not-for-profit store with over 100 local artists from across Stirlingshire.

Opening its doors at the former Wilkies retail space in November 2018, 44 King Street has welcomed local artists to sell their work and has been delighted with the support from local business and people living and working in Stirling. From ceramics and jewellery to food products, photography and fine art, their stock is diverse and individual – not things easily found on the high street.

Made in Stirling is looked after by Paul Jenkins and Samantha Green. Paul lends his talents to all things creative within the store. Originally from Dunblane, and returning after 20 years in London, Paul says: "Here in Stirling, my job seems like the complete antithesis of my years of working in design in London. There it was all about fast fashion, but here we want shoppers to take their time and invest in unique quality work.

"Bucking the current trend of large high street chains and their daily demise, 'Made In Stirling' is doing better than ever and I feel that's because customers are now understanding the value of supporting local, but they also want something special that can't be replicated in every home or shopped off Amazon.

"Made In Stirling works a bit like a market – each artist pays rent and then as a whole we help each other in so many more ways than just making those sales; being part of a creative community can inspire so much good work."

Paul continued: "The growth of Made In Stirling has been phenomenal, we have new artists constantly banging down the door! It's something Stirling badly needs with all the doom and gloom around the high street at the moment.

"We offer something unique, the chance for locals and visitors to take home something hand-crafted that will last, and customers are supporting their local creative community with every purchase".

Together the team also offer support and nurture new talent, and local artists can testify to the success of Made in Stirling.'

Stewart Brown became a full time artist two years ago, and working from the purpose built studio in his back garden, sells and displays his artworks locally.

"Using the skills and social networks of the Stirling collective, rather than trying to do everything alone, curators Paul and Sam have helped me gain more exposure and I've seen a noticeable rise in my sales through the MIS shop.

"Volunteering in the shop weekly has given me a deeper insight into what customers appreciate. Being part of this creative hub also allowed me to be part of their first ever art exhibition in the gallery space and I was especially excited to sell one of my larger originals to a customer in America."

David Galletly, originally from Stirling, became a full-time artist in 2012 and became involved with Creative Stirling when they launched in 2012.

"I attended many early events and exhibited some artwork as part of their First Fridays project. Joe Hall (Creative Stirling's director) and I have worked together on a few projects over the years, and I'm really happy to see how far she's taken Creative Stirling."

He continues: "I was the first artist to move into Creative Stirling's new hub at 44 King Street and it's been great fun watching more and more people move in and help transform the building (a former department store) into an exciting, ambitious space.

"As a freelancer, Creative Stirling is a fantastic place to work. Despite being a one-man operation, having my base at 44 King Sreet means that I'm surrounded by other creative people every day.

"Although it's still early-days for the hub, there's already an encouraging and helpful atmosphere here. Creative Stirling's growth has given me a new enthusiasm and excitement for living and working in Stirling. As an artist, it's easy to think of Stirling as a base for working elsewhere, but with so many talented people coming together under one roof, there will undoubtedly be opportunities and collaborations happening here in the city every day."

After graduating with a Master of Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art in 2003, and with three young children to support, Frances Chambers worked for the local council and did very little art making until she got involved with a community art project in Denny during the town's regeneration works.

This reintroduced her to art and she is now working full time as an artist.

"I became involved with Creative Stirling through Sam Green who kept telling me I should get involved which I eventually did in 2018. I've had artworks on show and available to buy since then. I try to volunteer in the shop/gallery as often as possible and since joining MiS and moving to the larger King Street premises I have felt so inspired by Made in Stirling staff Paul and Sam and the other artists that I am now delivering some art workshops and loving every minute of it."

With the increasing closure of high street retailers and empty premises creating ghost towns, Made in Stirling is an excellent example of the local enthusiasm and talent that is available to fill the many gaps in our city centres, and bring much needed life back to our high streets.

Creative Stirling –
Made in Stirling - 44 King St, Stirling FK8 1AY Phone: 01786 357550

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