Knot Works opened in the summer of 2021 in Southborough and is an artistic organisation run by three friends – Holly Jean Crosbie, Samuel Wheeler and Edward Liddle. Here, the trio tell Eileen Leahy more about their multi-layered creative venture…
So let’s start with you telling us in essence what Knot Works is all about?
Knot Works is a creative cultural organisation. We programme exhibitions featuring contemporary artists and makers whose work we believe should be seen and experienced by a wider audience. We host workshops run by artists including drawing, pottery, sewing and print making. We currently also host two resident artists at our Knot Works studio, as part of our ambition to support and nurture artists in their professional development.
When did it launch and how are things going so far?
We launched in the Summer of 2021 and hosted our first series of workshops using Ed’s art studio in Southborough as our base. We wanted people to be able to experience workshops with professional artists, learning from and being inspired by their expertise. At the same time, we launched Knot Works with an inaugural exhibition which featured works from our own network of artist and design collaborators.
“Our vision for Knot Works is ambitious, and this is just the start”
When did you move into your premises at 64 London Road?
A year after launching we were so pleased to find our current permanent premises in Southborough. The response to opening our space on the high street there has been really positive. We’ve already run pottery studio evenings, life drawing classes as well as an exhibition of photography by Kate Sims. It’s been wonderful to welcome people to the space to make things together and to platform the work of artists whether that’s through exhibitions or workshops.
Has the local community been supportive of your venture?
Yes and we are really grateful for all of the support we have received so far. But we would love to meet more people, and welcome them to our exhibitions and workshops. So please come and support Knot Works; pop along to an exhibition, book a workshop or join us for a studio evening. Like all small businesses in order to keep going and to develop we need people to buy tickets to our workshops, to attend events and to support us so do please come along and get involved – we would love to meet you all!
What kinds of offerings do you provide apart from exhibitions?
Our vision for Knot Works is ambitious, and this is just the start. Alongside our programme of exhibitions, workshops and studio time at our space, we also regularly host what we call ‘Work in Progress’ evenings. These also take place at our space at 64 London Road and form an important part of what we want to develop at Knot Works. Professional development for those working or hoping to work in the cultural industries can be really hard and expensive at times. The free ‘Work in Progress’ evenings are a chance for people to bring along something that they are working on to get some feedback from other creative people. When we all graduated from art school we really missed the nurturing environment that they create so the ‘Work in Progress’ evenings are a way in which we are trying to nurture artists, makers and creatives who are looking for a supportive network to help them develop their work.
“We programme exhibitions featuring contemporary artists and makers whose work we believe should be seen and experienced by a wider audience”
As Knot Works boasts a ‘shop front’ do you receive a lot of impromptu visitors?
We really like being located on the high street. We’ve had some great conversations with people who have been passing by and who have been intrigued to hear about what we’re up to and what plans we have for the future. Some days Holly uses the front space of the building to cut and sew clothing. At other times there is pottery being made and at others there’ll be an exhibition. In order to thrive our high streets need a variety of people doing different things, so we are really invested in being here and to bringing change to what happens on it.
You run Knot Works collaboratively, can you tell us a little bit about this?
Together we draw on each of our personal experiences and run the organisation collaboratively. We often change roles and at various times can all be found putting together an exhibition, or prepping for an upcoming workshop as well as teaching workshops.
You all juggle Knot Works with other jobs – how do you do this?
We each have other jobs that we maintain alongside running Knot Works. Holly is an architect and runs her own architecture and attire practice as well as teaching Architecture at the University of Brighton and London Metropolitan University. Sam is an architect and is currently working on several large-scale projects in London. Ed works at The Amelia as their Exhibitions Officer and continues to make his own artwork (you can currently see some of his artwork at The Towner in Eastbourne). We’re all quite busy, but all of our other work feeds directly into Knot Works. Cultural activity is very much like an eco-system with lots of different influences feeding into and supporting one another. We’re all really enjoy working on our various projects and believe it helps to shape and inform our work at Knot Works.
“Cultural activity is very much like an eco-system with lots of different influences feeding into and supporting one another”
What exhibitions and workshops do you have coming up in the near future?
We have just hosted an incredible exhibition called terra/firma, which featured the work of Jean Crosbie and Holly Jean Crosbie. Both artists work in clay, and are inspired by landscape, topology and mark making. We have a winter pop-up shop taking place over the second weekend in December (see breakout). And our January and February workshops are now available to book. These include a lino printmaking workshop as well as our very popular life drawing evenings ‘Nudey Tuesdays’ which will be returning alongside our pottery studio evenings. The pottery studio evenings are great for anyone with some experience of making pottery, as they offer untutored access to our pottery studio and equipment if people want to explore their own ideas in clay. For those with no prior experience of pottery we also have upcoming ‘master class’ workshops, which offer in-depth tuition about a particular pottery technique (such as coil building or slab building). These are a great introduction and are taught by Jean Crosbie who has over 25 years of ceramic experience and has just exhibited in our terra/firma exhibition.
And if people want to find out more about Knot Works what should they do?
We’ve got lots of exciting things planned for the future and we would encourage everyone to sign up to our Knot Works mailing list (which can be found at the bottom of the page on our website: www.knotworks.co.uk).
Our Instagram feed is also full of pictures of past workshops and exhibitions so please follow us to see what you could get involved with and to be the first to know about new events and announcements! @knotworks_
DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
Knot Works Winter Pop-Up Shop December 9 – 11
This will feature a curated selection of items for sale from artists and makers and showcase the work of people we know or have worked with during the past year. These unique items will make wonderful Christmas gifts. The Winter Pop-Up Shop will also be an opportunity for people to come and meet us and to find out more about Knot Works. People will be able to buy Knot Works workshops as gifts at the Pop-Up Shop, making a wonderful and thoughtful present to someone who wants to discover or rediscover their creativity in a supportive artist led environment!