Sorting Office artists design works for newly revamped theatre

 Nov 11, 2015

Four designer-makers from Eastleigh’s growing creative studio The Sorting Office have been chosen by a top London interior design company to help transform the foyer of The Point Theatre.

Ceramic artist Sheena Bond, print designer Mariska Parent, textile artist Claire Vine and visual artist Eve Dawson will be working alongside renowned London-based interior designer Naomi Doran of Relic Interiors, to create designs for The Point’s foyer and bar area, transforming it into a more welcoming and comfortable space.

The artists’ creations will form key parts of the exciting £450,000 refurbishment funded jointly by Arts Council England and Eastleigh Borough Council. The redesign will signal a new chapter in the life of the Leigh Road based theatre as it prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016.

Sheena Bond and Mariska Parent working on the design for their decorative tile panel

Sheena and Mariska will combine their talents for the first time to create a bespoke 2 x 1.5m tile panel inspired by the ornate archway over the main door of The Point, which will form a beautiful centrepiece behind the refurnished bar. Claire and Eve will be creating wall-mounted memory boxes together featuring photographs and props from The Point’s dance and theatre archives to celebrate its upcoming 20th anniversary in 2016.

Sheena Bond, ceramic artist, said:

“This wouldn’t have happened without the support of The Sorting Office; it has been fundamental.

“One of the great things about it is that opportunities do come knocking a lot more often than if we were designers trying to work independently.

“We all get on well as a group, and it’s a very positive place to be. We bounce ideas off of each other and support one another a lot, yet we still have our individual studio spaces, so it’s the best of both worlds.

“I have known Mariska for years, but this is the first collaborative project I’ve ever done, and it’s very exciting and pleasing that so many people will be able to see it.”

Mariska Parent, print designer, said:

“I wanted to get involved with this project because I felt it was important for The Sorting Office to put a stamp on Eastleigh and leave a legacy for future generations.

“I was initially working from a mobile home in my garden, but since I’ve come here, I’ve made so many contacts, and it’s given me a lot of confidence to take up any opportunity that's thrown my way.”

The Sorting Office in Wells Road was set up in 2013 as a creative hub and a supportive, nurturing environment for artists, designers and craftspeople with space for up to 16 studios to be occupied at any one time.

Although a group of eight Sorting Office residents had been encouraged to put themselves forward to manage the entire project, Naomi Doran’s proposal was unanimously chosen by The Point management thanks to her impressive track record with designing pub and café interiors.

Alan Wright, executive director at The Point, said:

“It’s been excellent working with Naomi as she responds to the needs of her clients and has adapted to changes and new ideas superbly.

“We introduced the idea of her working with The Sorting Office early on because we realised that there was an opportunity to link our creative hubs here in Eastleigh, and that was something that we jumped at.

“We were delighted that Sheena, Mariska, Claire and Eve took a real interest in being involved and came up with additional ideas for the foyer, even suggesting a local joiner that we have used for the refurbishment.

“Even though they don’t have the experience that Naomi does, this will give them a massive confidence boost, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pitched for smaller interior design projects in the future or collaborated with Naomi again.”

Lead designer Naomi Doran, of Relic Interiors, said:

 “Alan first suggested the collaboration, and after we’d met and I shared with them my interior design scheme, we discussed the possibility of working together.

“Once we knew which ideas were feasible with the budget we were able to move forward and develop the ideas further.

“Having seen a sneak preview of the work all of The Sorting Office artists have done, it looks fantastic, and I’m very excited about seeing the final result!”

Work is expected to be completed just before Christmas, in time for the theatre’s exciting Christmas and New Year schedule - and ready to kick start its upcoming anniversary year.

Photo by Harry Usborne.