Monday, 10 April 2017

Islington Mill

On my recent visit to Salford I was fortunate to meet artist and maker Claire Hignett with a studio at Islington Mill. (See my other separate blog post for more information on Claire's work). She kindly agreed to show me around and tell me more about the Mill.

"Created in 2000, Islington Mill remains a work in progress; an ever-evolving creative space, arts hub and community. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a vibrant and resourceful cross disciplinary creative network; a space where conversations leads to connections, collaboration and co-creation.

Public arts programmes, residencies and galleries sit alongside recording studios, an events space and a Bed and Breakfast facility for artists. Music and visual arts mix with events and exhibitions. More than 50 businesses and 100 artists call the Mill home. More than 15,000 people visit the building every year.

Islington Mill is a celebration of the unconventional; of radical and subversive thinking – it is a place where anything feels possible. The flexibility and fluid structure is a catalyst for creativity, allowing artists, residents and tenants to challenge accepted notions of what arts and culture can do, and who can be involved. The residents treasure their independence to explore and to create; to live and work as freely and creatively as possible, fostering an openness to experiment.

The Mill was built on an ethos of experimentation, creativity and inclusivity that has evolved and clarified over time. More than just a physical venue, there is an attitude and approach that unites people. The organic network they have forged continues to evolve because of the actions of the people who get involved; they community.

Collaboration is valued – within the Mill, the local community, nationally and internationally – and they are an integral part of the area’s regeneration. Attracting and retaining talent is fundamental to what the Mill does – supporting creative entrepreneurs and facilitating the potential and promise they bring. The ethos of participation, community and open space makes Islington Mill a vital ingredient in the urban regeneration mix, both in complementing what’s on offer and generating new possibilities.

The Mill sits between the University of Salford and Manchester city centre, straddling the two cities; simultaneously at the heart of Salford’s creative community and just a 10-minute walk down Chapel Street to Manchester city centre. The studio spaces are situated across the upper floors of the main converted mill – an imposing red brick building constructed around a cobbled central courtyard.

The Mill has a variety of atmospheric, industrial spaces around the complex, including live workspace in the external outbuilding as well as a ground floor venue and gallery space." Claire even took me up to the top floor and showed me the attic. There are exciting plans to develop this space into residency studios.

Whilst walking around the building I met a few other studio holders, including US artist, educator and curator, Stina Puotinen. Stina recently exhibited at Vane Gallery in Newcastle, an exhibition I was hugely excited by and that I blogged about. What a coincidence!

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