Stockport’s Think Studios @ Vernon Mill offer public ‘magic opportunity’ in art open day

By David Aspinall

An event which allows members of the public to visit artists’ studios for demonstrations and entertainment opens today Think Studios @ Vernon Mill in Stockport.

The event also gives people the chance to purchase some of the artwork on display at the studio, located in a former cotton mill on the edge of Stockport town centre.

The building has been open since 2000 when John Booth, a former roofer, requested space to use as a studio to develop his fine art.

Sadly Mr Booth passed away in 2009, but Andrew Parker, an artist and member of the studio’s committee, believes these open days provide both artists and the public a ‘magic opportunity’ to get a different perspective.

“These open days are a great opportunity for us artists to stand back and assess what we have been doing and where we are going with our work,” he said.

“It gives us a chance to spend time in each other’s studios talking about each other’s work, that’s one of the great ways you can grow as an artist.

“Opening your doors to the public makes you look at your work from an ‘outsiders’ perspective, and you get to meet some great people and have some fantastic conversations.”

When Andrew first took on the role eight years ago there were around 40 studios, but that number has grown to more than 60 covering two floors in the mill.

He believes being surrounded by so many artists and styles is invaluable to the development of his art.

He said; “We are constantly learning from each other, that’s the magic of being in such a large and diverse group of people.”

This opinion is echoed by Jackie Jamieson, a former Head of Art at Alderly Edge School for Girls, who believes it is impossible to be surrounded with other creative people and not be influenced.

“When you admire someone else’s work, you look closely at their methods, their techniques, their use of colour,” she said.

“That’s why I feel the ‘Open Studio’ events are so important!

“There is so much talent, creativity and variety of skills on display at Vernon Mill; so much to see, explore and enjoy!”

Jackie, who is originally from Leeds, has had her studio on the fourth floor for only two and a half years and runs painting and drawing workshops alongside discussions on historical and contemporary artists.

Former teachers seem to be drawn towards Think Studios, as 66-year-old Henry Quick, a former head-teacher from Stockport, has been located there for 11 years.

Henry is also a member of the committee and has a hand in arranging publicity for these events, which he believes are a brilliant way of exposing artwork to the public who can give their feedback.

Despite admitting that he is nowhere near the end of his artistic journey, he said; “Some of the observations that have been made with regard to pieces in my studio have convinced me I am on the right track, if only fleetingly.”

The studio prides itself on the wide range of mediums its artists use, which cover traditional methods like charcoal, sculpture and textiles to paintings using bitumen and salvage art using reclaimed items.

For this reason Henry says having studio space is invaluable and said: “I have been able to use the large space I have to use materials I could never have attempted to use at home and to experiment with different methods and approaches.”

One of the other main benefits of these open days is that visitors are able to purchase their artwork directly from the artist, which means you see first-hand where the piece has come to life.

Furthermore it is also cheaper than purchasing from a galley where prices are inflated due to commission being added on top. 

While browsing the studios for potential purchases visitors will be able to grab a drink from either the pop-up café or on-site microbrewery

Doors open at 7pm on Friday for a two and a half hour preview but for information on opening times across the weekend click here.

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