Grenaby Artist Studios
Professor Simon Maddrell discusses his dream of turning Grenaby into the heartbeat of the island’s art scene, a dream that is slowly becoming a reality.
On the grounds of Ballamaddrell lie a fascinating collection of dilapidated barns and mysterious outhouses surrounding the former ‘Old Ballamaddrell’ family home.
My wife Katie and I were sitting in the garden one day, looking across at this intriguing collection of buildings, when it dawned on us, we must use them or lose them.
‘Old Ballamaddrell’ had fallen into disrepair and was at the point where immediate action had to be taken.
We sought the advice of specialist stonemasons.
With gaping cracks in the granite walls, no foundations to speak of and the certain lack of a roof, it was clear that the project would become a labour of love.
The project quickly gathered momentum and Katie and I started to discuss possible uses for the building, a self-contained art studio seemed like the perfect solution.
We contacted the Arts Council and discovered that our idea was unique to the island. In fact there was a genuine call for dedicated art studios.
I own property in Italy and I’m fascinated by Italian architecture.
It was very important to me to maintain the integrity of the building.
This meant finding a team of lime specialists that could apply these traditional techniques to the renovation of the property.
Lime has numerous advantages and ultimately looks great.
At this stage we were holding open discussions with the Isle of Man Arts Council to determine what different specialists would require from the space.
We formed a partnership with the Arts Council which meant that artists wishing to take up tenancies, would be eligible for a grant, of up to 50% of the annual rental costs from them..
We also decided that the Courtyard Gallery would be responsible for selecting the artists to fill the studios.
In November 2005 the first four artists took their places and added such vibrancy to the area.
With the immense satisfaction of the project, it seemed like a natural progression to convert the nearby sheep sheds as a second phase. This would create a further two studios.
I began to develop my romantic notion of an art community in Grenaby.
Having been primarily used to store animals this would be a much smaller development.
With the skills learnt on the first building this project went to plan.
We had learnt so many valuable lessons on the first development that the sheds were a much more efficient scheme. The lime had been mastered which was a joy to watch go on and decisions regarding lighting and resolved were quickly resolved.
The second stage opened on November the 1st 2007
All the studios are currently full with artists ranging from glass and multi media to illustration and wood carving.
The rotation of artists means that we can support them as they develop.
The next phase of the project which is currently being discussed is the renovation of the large barn adjacent to the first studios. The plans are to include four propose-built flats for art holidays, a classroom that the artists could use to teach their individual classes and a two floor gallery.
This is going to be the biggest project by far.
So watch this space.
last updated: 19/12/2007 at 11:50
Have Your Say
A . Farmer
John, Isle of Man
The Proctor of Grenaby
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