FLAMEWORKS ARTS HUB IN PLYMOUTH
“It’s a community,” said Jez Menis, of Black Hand Crafts, a group of crafts-people making high-quality metal products.
“People help each other, if they get stuck or need an extra pair of hands.
Mr Menis has been a blacksmith and expert armourer for the past 15 years, but moved to Flameworks in 2011.
“There’s all sorts of skills here,” he said, “everything from engineers to smiths involved in all aspects of smithing.”
Mr Menis regularly teaches at Flameworks, at all levels from beginner to advanced, and is running blacksmithing courses on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
“Anyone who fancies trying their hand can pop down,” he said. “I make armour for re-enactments but people can do whatever they like.”
Christina Peters makes traditional Japanese-style Raku pottery, famous for its beauty and black-and-white linear markings.
Trained at Goldsmiths College and Plymouth College of Art, she has been at Flameworks for seven years.
“I tried to work from home but there was not enough space,” she said. “I came here to buy a kiln and they offered me a place. I’ve developed skills from just being here.”
Roger Corbet has more than 30 years’ experience as a hot glassworker – he doesn’t blow glass but uses a flame to shape it into delicate and beautiful ornaments.
Mr Corbet moved to Flameworks three years ago and also teaches at all levels.
“Flameworks is unique and necessary for Plymouth,” he said. “We make a living from what we do, selling our work to shops who resell it.
“And when you work on your own you need some company and inspiration from other artists.”
Flameworks also provides work experience, with Polish student Justyna Pachulska spending three months on placement at the facility.
“I’ve learned about art and photography and have been blogging about my experiences,” she said. “It’s been very good for me.”
Finnish student Satu Peltoniemi spend two weeks at Flameworks leaning video techniques.
“I’ve been making a film for Flameworks,” she said. “I’m enjoying it very much.”
Louise Rabey is an arts graduate from Plymouth University who has spend six months on an internship at Flameworks.
“I want to develop a career as an illustrator,” she said. “And I’ve been on a project looking at trusts and funds which give money to the arts.”
Pete Davey, founder of the social enterprise Pennycomequick Arts (PCQ Arts) said his organisation is now based at Flameworks.
PCQ Arts is working on a five-year project with Derriford Hospital which will see work commissioned for exhibitions at the hospital.
“Flameworks provides an environment for artists to work together,” he said. “That generates educational programmes and benefits the city’s economy and it is therefore a very important place.”
(Publicity generated by Dorcas Media).