A NEWLY-OPENED printmaking studio promises to be a resource not only for local artists but for the whole community.
The brainchild of Esther Johnson, who has a background in textiles and interior design, The Arches Printmaking Studio CIC, in Braybrooke Terrace, has been a year in the making and opened for business this week.
Esther, 38, said the town had been lacking a fully equipped printmaking studio since the closure of the college on the Archery Road site.
She said: “I realised there was a gap in the market because we had umpteen people crying out for the facilities.
“People used to come over from Brighton to use Archery Road years ago, but since then people are staying away from Hastings. This made me quite angry, I thought, let’s keep the money in Hastings.”
Businesswoman and mother-of-two Esther was unfazed by the considerable challenge. “I’m a do-er, I’m not the sort of person who talks about something, I just get on with it,” she said.
The studio consists of two workshops, fully equipped for many different types of printmaking including screen printing, etching, mono, lino, wood cut and litho printing. Equipment includes an etching press which was used for many years by award-winning artist Paula Rego.
Esther said that she has already had a huge amount of interest from artists, and those who have already booked time at the studio, or will be offering classes include Siobhan O’Hanlon, Jane Beecham, Paula MacArther, Victoria Kiff, Fiona Pienkowska, and Myles Calvert. Reaching out to those who have not previously had the chance to try printmaking, particularly young people, is central to the ethos of The Arches, and Esther plans to eventually take on an apprentice herself.
“If I can help a couple of kids and get them inspired by some of the artists then job done.”
There are also outreach projects in the pipeline with the Hastings Trust and Project Artworks, which works with people with severe neurological impairments.
Esther said: “It is a tale of how the community and local business have worked together to create something that will go on to help others in the community, not just the artistic community.” She paid tribute to Westoak Builders which donated tradesmen to help with the internal fit out, as well as the other organisations and businesses, which have given expertise or financial help to the project including The Arts Council and Hastings Trust.
Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “It is great that these artists now have top class facilities on their doorstep. Another new high class professional business is great for everyone.” The full timetable will be available soon. Visit www.facebook.com/TheArchesPrintmakingCic.