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It's been a very busy 12 months for Wraptious, with many new exciting opportunities coming our way. In particular was the launch of a new studio space at the impressive South Downs Heritage Centre.
The centre was built and run by the Tate family, who still run the business today. Originally starting as an agriculture and gardening artefact museum, it has been transformed into a space to promote British art, craft, food and education. It now supports a community of over 60 artists, makers, foodies and volunteers.
It really is a fantastic way to champion local craftspeople and independent artists, and we were delighted to be able to stock our very own shop space within the centre.
Martin Barrett, who runs the project, has been a keen supporter of Wraptious and kindly agreed to discuss the project, and what it means to him.
What was your original vision for the project?
Our vision has changed a lot since the centre opened. In conjunction with local artist, Martin Nee, we opened The Cube Gallery inside the centre, with a focus on original and affordable art. The art really started to take off, much more quickly than we expected, and so we turned our attention to growing the art side of the business.
Next year, The Grace Eyre Foundation, who won best house in this year’s Brighton and Hove Artists Open Houses, are exhibiting here. They work with artists who have learning disabilities, and are all truly inspirational people.
Why do you think it's important to share traditional skills?
It’s important to ensure traditional skills aren’t lost to future generations. Many are at risk of dying out unless younger generations make a concerted effort to learn them. At the South Downs Heritage Centre, you will find Sarah Brangwyn, running ‘Made and Making’, a company based at the Heritage Centre offering a variety of art and craft courses. These include several on traditional skills such as calligraphy, hand lettering and quilling.
Where would you like to see it going in the future?
We have lots of plans for the future. Our main aim is to grow our visitor numbers and become known as one of the best places for art in Sussex. The high quality of work on display by Wraptious artists will really help us achieve this, now it is in such a prominent location and has its own dedicated studio and display area in the centre.
How important do you think spaces like this are for artists?
I think they are really important. There aren’t many places locally that make art so accessible to everyone. For the Wraptious artists, their work will be displayed to more than 200,000 visitors this year, so that’s great exposure. We’ve met some really talented local artists through our art project at the centre, some of whom have never exhibited anywhere before so it’s been great to be able to support them on their journey. You do get a lovely feeling when you hear they’ve had a successful exhibition and sold several thousand pounds’ worth of art!
What's the best aspect of the project in your view?
Having the opportunity to give talented artists a platform to share and sell their art. Our artists really deserve to be here and to be successful.
For more information on the South Downs Heritage Centre (or plan a visit!) take a look at their website