Christmas Shopping at the Open Artists Studios – the Cluny Warehouse

Julia Roxburgh Teapots

This weekend we ambled down to 36 Lime Street for the annual open artist studios event  based in the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle. The Lime Street studios are based in the Cluny Warehouse which was originally built as ‘The Northumberland Flax Mill’ in 1848, to the design of John Dobson for the firm of Plummer & Cooke. Originally steam powered, its life as a flax mill was short, and the building became a Whisky store and is now better known as the Cluny Warehouse.

Reflective shot

 The cavernous building is now home to a number of Creative industries, artists, designers, photographers, musicians, poets, actors, printmakers, glass artists, jewellery makers, furniture makers, ceramicists and textile artists. It is also a music venue and cafe and a real hub for the arts in this former industrial centre. Close to the Ouseburn and the quayside the Ouseburn valley is a valuable part of Newcastle’s Industrial heritage.
This weekend gives a unique chance to meet the artists, ask them about their work and buy interesting and original pieces at much less than you might pay in a gallery.

The last mince pie

You may also score for a free mince pie and a small glass of sherry if you smile nicely at the artists. Although the only mince pie that was left when we got there I’m convinced had only been left because people thought it was an installation.The building was quite derelict thirty years ago and has been very gradually restored and upgraded. I remember using it as a rehearsal space for a Theatre company I was in some years ago and it was so cold and grim that I got some nasty infection from the damp which I suffered with all the way through the Merchant of Venice. My favourite ceramicist Julia Roxburgh was there again and it was all I could do to resist buying yet another teapot that would never see an actual brew.

Fantasy tea time.        

We enjoyed talking to Stevie Ronnie a writer and artist who had been on an artist’s residence to the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic along with twenty five other artists from around the world. Staying on a tall ship they had made art inspired by their environment and Stevie had been part funded by The Farm Foundation an arts charity based in New York which I thought was very entrepreneurial of him. I liked his photograph of the most northerly petrol station in the world. Last petrol for 25,000 miles..

Smiling Stevie

I enjoyed Helena Seget‘s floating shelves and there was also some lovely glass work and beautiful handmade furniture. We sat on a  very expensive handmade sofa to drink our coffee and eat our home made cake.Polly Westergaard‘s gorgeous stag designs on mugs and cards and things make very affordable presents and there were also a lot of beautiful paintings of our lovely local icons, the Tyne Bridge and the Art Deco Rendezvous Cafe at Whitley Bay being two of my favourites.

Tea time at the Rendezvous cafe

It’s always a fun day out at the Ouseburn studios and although times are tough for everyone at the moment – not just artists – it’s nice to see that people are still being inspired to be creative and make beautiful and useful things just around the corner.

Floating shelves

Quayside art
Time to go..