RedPod Studios at the Clay Factory
RedPod Studios is aiming to become an art hub in the site of a disused factory. Artist Carly Jones takes us through their plans for this exciting space.
The Clay Factory is an impressive and imposing building stood on the edge of Dartmoor. Once a hub of industrial activity, until recently it stood relatively empty and largely unused. Full of atmosphere, inspiration and potential, we knew straight away that this series of buildings was calling out to once again become a hub of activity. As a practicing artist who has largely worked from home, I am very much aware of the demand for flexible studio space – in 2015 I approached Mags Davies, Director of the Eddystone Trust, with an idea to create an arts hub in The Clay factory. Having already been working closely with the owner of the Clay Factory to develop the building, she was really keen to make this happen. I submitted a proposal and it’s really from there that the plans started to became a reality.
RedPod Studios is found right at the heart of the Clay Factory sitting beneath the rafters. We wanted to create a community where artists can have their own creative spaces allowing them the freedom to explore their own practice, whilst also providing an opportunity to come together to collaborate, support each other and take the arts out to the wider community. The flexible nature of the space allows us to have between six to twelve individual art studios with glass doors to enhance the sense of community rather than isolation. Having spent years painting from home myself, I am aware how isolating that it can be and it was really important to us to create an atmosphere where there is a sense of involvement and togetherness, allowing artist to share skills and learn from each others’ experiences. This space also has a chill-out and kitchen area where artists can meet up to have a break from their creativity and discuss plans for the hub and future projects. Next door is a large exhibition and gallery space with hefty beams to allow for interesting and quirky ways of displaying art and installations. This interesting space also has a separate galley that lends itself perfectly to sound or film installations requiring a dark space. It also has the potential to be used as a sensory space. RedPod Studios will also offer workshop space which will be available for both resident and visiting artists to hire out, allowing the local community to engage in the courses we will be running. We are also looking at creating an area where new, emerging or graduate artists can work together in a shared space, rather than jumping straight into an individual studio.
Carly and Mags on the new balcony (soon to become a cafe) next to RedPod Studios.
Working in one of the finished studio spaces.
The spacious art hub.
One of the large, individual studio spaces.
For us it was vitally important that RedPod Studios was artist-led so that the artists feel like they actually have a say in shaping the Art Hub and steering it in the right direction. As an artist myself it was one of the most important factors for me to know that the artists will be involved in decision making and responsible for pushing the Art Hub forward right from the outset. As part of this we held an open evening on 26th April where we invited local artists to experience our space and give feedback on their opinions and thoughts going forward. It was a great evening with lots of positive vibes and a real sense of excitement that something new and full of potential was being created for artists in the local area. We invited some course leaders from Plymouth College of Art and they were enthusiastic to see a new potential opportunity for Plymouth’s graduating art students.
The vision for RedPod Studios is ultimately to enhance and propel forward the professional careers of our artists. We plan to do this by attracting gallery owners and curators from all over the UK to come and see our artists work and give them the opportunity to create new relationships. Our artists will have the opportunity to exhibit their work throughout the year as well as having the chance to open up their studios to the public on open studios events. It’s important to us to make connections with well known artists from Devon, Cornwall and beyond to exhibit their work so we can shine the spotlight on the local area. We also want to make the arts accessible to people in the local community who might not yet be involved in the arts by offering a variety of workshops given by both our resident and visiting artists, as well as the chance to collaborate on larger projects.
There is of course a much bigger picture regarding the Clay Factory. Built in the early twentieth century, the site is within easy access of the A38 in both directions and is adjacent to the B3213 close to the village of Bittaford, a couple of minutes out of Ivybridge. The premises were originally used for the treatment, storage and transportation of china clay, then used for the production and distribution of agricultural machinery with a dealership and workshops on site, and in more recent times the premises were subdivided and multi-let.
Approximately half the overall site has been taken on a long-term lease by The Eddystone Trust who aim to create a modern community hub that provides opportunities for work and play whilst retaining the historic integrity of the buildings. As a plan it is ambitious and transformational, developing new partnerships, bringing together an exciting mix of skills and expertise within a funding and business model which will generate economic and social benefits for the local community. The new community hub will reach out to the surrounding neighbourhoods delivering opportunities for accessing health, leisure and well-being opportunities to local people, creating vibrant new work spaces for local businesses and charities, offering an inspiring conference and training venue and breathing life and energy into a neglected historic building.
For us, one of the biggest factors that makes The Clay Factory the perfect place for RedPod Studios is it’s location right on the edge of Dartmoor. It’s proximity to local areas like Ivybridge, Totnes, South Brent, Torbay and Plymouth means it is convenient for a host of artists from all over South Devon, whilst still being in the heart of a visually inspiring location – we plan to take advantage of the beautiful moors on our doorstep by offering outdoor workshops. Plymouth and the surrounding area feels like it’s on the cusp of an exciting arts regeneration and we wanted to be a part of that movement as it was happening. Last year saw the first Plymouth Art Weekender which was really successful in placing Plymouth on the arts map. It would be great if the area not only gave art graduates a reason to stay in South Devon but also attracted emerging and established artists from all over the UK and other parts of the world to come and live and work here as artists, contributing to the growing arts scene.
So what next? Our studio spaces will be up and running with artists working from them within the next month. We are planning to officially open in September with a big evening of celebrations including an exhibition of our resident artists work. Our workshops will be rolled out gradually over the summer to the local community and general public and in the meantime we are working on building up our exposure and getting the word out there!
For further information on RedPod Studios please contact Carly Jones on email@example.com or 07909 675979.
For further information on The Clay Factory in general and renting of space please contact Mags Davies on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01752 656470 / 01752 254406.