A creative hub which was set up less than two years ago has built a platform for a range of local artists to showcase their talent in their unique venue.
Summerseat Art Studio is run by June Winsche, 55, and her son Reuben, 23, and is situated in an outbuilding at their home on Railway Street.
Since it was set up in July 2021, it has become a staple for unique gifts and art pieces and the family duo work brilliantly together.
June interviews artists and chooses which ones to take on and mentor them, while Reuben focuses on the business, website and social media side of the operation.
In an idea born during a coronavirus lockdown, the studio includes art from around 36 artists who all live and work in the Bury and Ramsbottom area who may have struggled to promote their artwork in a gallery.
June said: “All the people here are local, and we focus on offering them a platform and there’s nothing really like this around here.
“We hear people say that they don’t have the confidence in myself to promote my art or I don’t know where to start or I’m trying to find lets for it.
“We have two ceramists, a lady who does porcelain, a glass smith, a candlemaker, wood worker, around 20 artists who work in different mediums, macramé, two photographers, a metalworker and a jeweler who works with recycled silver.”
The studio has led to the formation of a community of artists and is seen as a positive platform for people to be a part of.
June added: “A lot come who are very insecure or anxious about their art, they don’t know what to price it at and a lot of them had very low confidence and this helps.
“Artists have said that the whole experience of being part of a group has improved their self-confidence and self-worth massively.
“It’s even improved my confidence and we all feel like we’ve developed new skills from it.”
Reuban added: “We see what we’re doing with all these local artists and its money that’s in the community, artists in the community who you wouldn’t necessarily see their art and customers want local art too.
“They come in because people know them if they’re a neighbor and sometimes an artist will come to drop off new art and a customer will be there, and they meet and talk.”
June explained that the studio has managed to change the way some people see and think of art and how it can sometimes be seen as stuffy and high-brow.
She said: “We’re not like other galleries where they’re all very clinical looking and white and spaced out.
“What I feel I’ve done is I’ve brought art to the community where people can actually go and see art.
“Here people can wander in and just look at art.
“For instance, one of our potters is displaying her work that was previously just sat in her garage and spare room.
“Now she’s proud of it. This place keeps it in the community, it goes back into the community and local people’s pockets and we’re very proud of it.”
The studio works hard to build relationships with all of their artists and gives them feedback on how they could change things if things aren’t working out.
The studio has been likened to an “Aladdin’s Cave” and people have said it’s a place like somewhere you would find in Cornwall or France.
June said: “You can go in a touch and feel and listen to the music and smell the oils we burn and its very emotive and has a really beautiful vibe.
“We’ve had people get emotional in there.”
After proving to be a success in the community, June and Reuben are hoping to work with local businesses to expand what they are already doing.
Reuben said: “We’ve always been quite good on social media, but because it’s in a back garden it can be quite hard for people to find.
“People often say we’ve heard about you but don’t know where you are. At first it was quite hard to get people to walk down the garden path.
“So, I want to keep making our social media better.
“Just this week, we changed the studio around and we’re trying to make it more professional whilst also keeping the charm of it.
“We’re just trying to push it out, I want to get our name about a bit more.”
They recently worked with two Airbnb set-ups in Ramsbottom, which kitted out their homes with artwork from the studio.
The pair are hoping to get more help on board from firms such as hotels in partnerships that can benefit both sides.
June also said that once a month, her rambling group comes round and she puts on cakes, coffee and tea and she gets a donation from doing that too.
As well as doing these extras, they also held an open day last summer.
June said: “We had an open day last summer and had several artists in the garden and drawing and working live.
“There was a girl who has a sound healing business who was at the bottom of the garden doing that.
“There were yoga mats everywhere and she did this sound bathing and a guided meditation.
“Before we even opened, we had families who came to lie down in the garden, and it was so trusting of people. It was a beautiful day.”
Reuben said: “We put it on social media but we didn’t get much back from it so didn’t really expect much but we had around 150 people come throughout the day.”
June added: “We then had a guy from Whitefield who agreed to take a group of people down the woods and river where they could record their journey through art.
“So, they made a little sketch book, and they weren’t allowed to use pencils or pens they had to use pigment from grass, soil and things like that and the kids loved it.
“We had ‘live for energy’ mental health support group in Bury woman who came to talk to people.
“We had Incredible Edible who came with fruit and plants and veg they had grown.
“Everyone had a really good couple of hours.”
Since then, the studio has run watercolor classes with two watercolor artists.
They put together their skills and have said it has been amazing what absolute beginners have achieved in just two hours.
June said: “I wish we were more well known, but I think if we picked it up and put it on a high street it would lose something, because it’s so nice and people say that it’s our brand being here.
“Our tag line is ‘home is where the art is’ because it sums up what we are.”