Winter wonderland at The Sorting Office Open Studios
New and old visitors alike were full of praise for The Sorting Office’s Winter Open Studios, which took place on the weekend of 21st and 22nd November.
The designer-maker studio in the heart of Eastleigh offered a warm welcome to more than 400 people across the two-day event, allowing guests to chat with the artists, take a peek at demonstrations of their work and of course, shop for some exquisite, one-off Christmas presents.
The event, which coincided with Eastleigh’s Christmas lights switch-on, brought further festive spirit to the town centre thanks to a drop-in Christmas card screen printing workshop and a saxophonist on hand to provide some seasonal tunes.
Alongside the 16 resident artists at The Sorting Office, guest stalls were set up in the Production House, featuring creative businesses such as Southampton’s Beatnik Emporium, The Biscuit Collective and a shared stall hosted by resident jewellery artist Joanne Tinley’s students.
The Open Studios events occur twice a year - once in summer and once in winter - and have gone from strength to strength, with more than 5,000 visitors attending the open days since the inaugural event in 2013.
Artist’s sales have also increased with every event, and this time round was no exception, with takings up by one-third on last year’s event.
There were plenty of newcomers to The Sorting Office, who took the opportunity to pick up some unique gifts and learn more about Eastleigh’s hidden creative gem, as well as previous visitors who could not resist coming back for another look.
One such visitor, Heather Wilkins, an Eastleigh resident said:
“I had heard of The Sorting Office, but until now, I had never stepped inside. I am very impressed and surprised at how many different forms of art there are here.”
Mark Camp, also of Eastleigh, said:
“The creativity and the range of work is staggering. I want to support Eastleigh and local craftspeople, and I think it’s important to do that by coming to these events.
“I didn’t know anything like this was happening in Eastleigh, so when I first discovered it last year, I was chuffed to bits.”
Ria Loveridge of A Space Arts, who manage the Sorting Office on behalf of Eastleigh Borough Council, said:
“The Sorting Office Winter Studios was a great success this year, and we are so happy and excited with the progress that the events are making.
“As we grow our links with the local community and businesses the bi-annual open studio events draw in an interested and captive audience that continues to support our local makers."
By James Hibberd.
Photos from the Sorting Office Winter Open Studios 2015
Photo 1 - Visitors browse the artists' studios
Photo 2 - Junko O'Neill presents her work to visitors
Photo 3 - Stall belonging to Joanne Tinley's jewellery students
Photo 4 - Visitors browse the studios
Photo 5 - Festive feelings
Photo 6 - Guests look round Denise Hughes' studio
Photo 7 - Karen Head's vibrant studio
Photo 8 - Visitors browse the jewellery stall, set up in the production house
Photo 9 - The production house on VIP night
Photo 10 - Visitors look round the stalls set up in the production house
Photo 11 - The stall manned by Alix and Stephen of the Biscuit Collective
Photo 12 - A visitor browses through Louisa Mae Photography's prints