Group 38

Our project aims to realise an affordable live/work space for local artists in St Helens, while also promoting the potential reuse and revitalization of St Mary’s Market. Through a public exhibition showcasing student visualisations in collaboration with the artists, we hope to engage with the local community and celebrate the hidden opportunities of creatives in the area. Our vision is to create an artist-led, sustainable and accessible space that reflects the needs of everyday artists and contributes to the livability and vibrancy of the town. As part of Liverpool's Borough of Culture 2023, we believe that by investing in the creative potential of St Helens, we can uncover positive social impacts, foster community engagement, and inspire a new vision for the future of the town.

Kirstin Kher Ting L / Xze Shean Andrea G / Francis R / Violet S / Mengxuan L / Sanjidah C

Poster Navigation and Thought Processes


Toying between the title options of Bare Creatives and Naked Studios, we decided to go with a project name that sounds local, is eye-catching and on the lines of being provocative, as it is in a way a call to expose the situations artists are in - a kind of initiative protest? Exposing to the public (and planners) everything happening ground-up: unaffordability, the loss of work and living space due to large scale regeneration, and the lack of care. The bareness or nakedness uncovers this vulnerability, making connections to diversity, inclusive creativity, and “the warmth of home, bodies”.

We have colour-coded our blog posts to hopefully ease navigation through them as we continue to update you on our progress. The blog sections are divided according to the colour scheme from the Reside* (IG: @artistledsthelens) exhibition in conjunction with the St Helens Borough of Culture Launch, mapping the creativity in St Helens. These sections include:
•Team Introductions
•Outputs/Action Week

The poster combines the Artists’ Mapping and an illustration pack made by Grace (IG: @onethousandprinces) from a previous consultation with local artists about the same raw above-mentioned issues of artists without studios.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:21
Hi! I’m Violet, I am a Master of Architecture Student in the SKN Atelier, whilst also working in practice one day a week. I am new to Manchester and am loving living in a city.

I am an artist at heart, who uses painting to relax. I see architecture as another form of artwork, with people at the centre. I am passionate about sustainability and making a change on the world. I love finding unique bargains, vintage shopping in my spare time.

I’ve been lucky to have had experience working on a Social Value project, mapping the social value of a town in Reading to make a change for the community based on their needs and wants. The artists of St. Helens are so interesting and diverse in their skills and interests, that they truly deserve a space where their creativity can prosper. I am excited to help them create the studio space that they truly need.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:34
Hey everyone! I’m Sanji, a Master of Architecture student at the MSA, in the flux atelier. Just moved to Manchester quite recently, so still getting to know the ins and outs of the place, as well as finding the best café spots around town.

Always leaving little pieces of myself wherever I go around the globe; travelling most definitely has my soul. I cherish cosy, autumn nights and spend nearly all of my time in fictional worlds, when I’m not admiring art. Even though my days and nights are consumed by architecture, I find little gaps in time where I run my small artistic business!

I’m super stoked to be working on this project with St Helens as it encompasses all I believe in and look forward to making a difference, with a brilliant squad.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:37
Hi everyone! I'm Kirstin, a Master of Architecture Student currently based in Atelier Making at Manchester School of Architecture. As an international student abroad, I always find myself finding pieces of “home” in unfamiliar places and strive to do the same in the shoes of the artists in this project.

I am currently writing a dissertation on (un)hidden art scenes in the city, as many of my interests revolve around the mixing of cultures, social contradictions and ground-up approaches to art, architecture...and everything in between! Having been part of SSOA Live Projects and worked in Progress in Practice, I hope to be able to bring the same collaborative and sustainable ethos to the table.

Looking ahead, I am incredibly excited to be engaging with all the artists and our MSA Live dream team to make real changes in St Helens, and cannot wait to collaborate with everyone who will be involved!
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:39
Hi all! I’m Andrea, a Master of Architecture student currently studying at the Manchester School of Architecture in the Atelier Continuity in Architecture.

By day, I am an architecture student and by night I take on small illustration projects for an independent architecture magazine based in Malaysia. Art has always played a significant role in my life, and working on small illustration projects on the side keeps me sane after a full day of staring at architectural drawings.

I’m always down to explore new and weird ideas and I hope collaborating with my teammates and the artists, we are able to come out with unique takes on adapting St Mary’s Market into an artist studio.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:40
Hello, I'm Harry and in the atelier flux. I was enticed by the interplay between atmosphere and regeneration in the first place. I'm motivated by the kind of architecture that keeps the end-users and the neighbourhood it's being constructed at the heart of the project. My ambition is to be an architect that could make a difference, creating projects that not only take into account the environment but also live up to people's and communities expectations. Throughout my time in Manchester, I have become interested in filmmaking and interpretive dance. I have an unwavering commitment to boules, I spend plenty of time practising and competing in tournaments. My zest and enthusiasm for my sport, I also carry to my profession. I also like pancakes.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:42
Hey! I am Sophia. I’m a Master of Architecture Student based in Atelier Flux. I just moved to the UK and really enjoy it so far.

I love photography, which I use to record my feelings and the beauty I see. From my point of view, architecture and photography are both approaches that allow me to discover things and express myself.

Working with artists provides me with another perspective on things and I really enjoy this project. I hope that by working with the local community, our efforts can make a difference in artists' studio spaces.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:48
Meet our collaborators! Artists Rebecca Ainsworth, Claire Weetman and Grace Collins are Platform Arts, based in Platform Studios – the space above St Mary's Market in St Helens. Platform Arts is exploring the idea of a live/work space for the local artists as the town centre undergoes redevelopment.

The artists have seen demand for space in Platform Studios and have recently worked with over 50 local artists for the Art in Empty Shops project. This lived experience has shown Platform Arts the real need for workspaces for artists in the local area.

They reckon there's not a lot of suitable living spaces in St Helens for single professionals either, with most dwellings being family homes. So, Platform Arts is looking into how it can tackle both of these issues with a live/work space for artists. Plus, it's exploring the potential of a community land trust model which could counteract the power that landlords have over the sustainability of art spaces.

Check them + their ongoing projects out on Instagram @artistledsthelens!
Posted 12 Mar 2023 22:17
1st Collaborative Meeting (07/12/2022)

Our first time meeting the collaborators Claire and Grace.

Not knowing anything about each other at all, us students and the collaborators had many interesting conversations to get to know each other and already found relatable quirks/patterns between art and architecture: ideas galore, mixed media madness, the struggles of subjectivity and the like!

While we forgot to get a group photo of the session, the illustrations made and gifted by Grace in themselves depict the entire ethos of their drive for this project – hand-made pieces of art showing the raw emotions and helplessness of artists having their studios and (only) everyday spaces potentially taken away in the blindsided push for regeneration.

Contrary to the heavy issues mentioned, all of us left with light hearts and cannot wait to see where this real world project takes us.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 22:38
1st Site Visit to St Helens (04/02/2023)

We took the morning train to St Helens – a first time there for the most of us. The train ride there with Grace was enjoyable as we reminisced about going on field trips in back in school, and were given a road-crossing tour of sunny Wigan en route to our destination.

Arriving in St Helens, we were greeted by St Helens’ pride for glassblowing along the walls of the train station in beautiful graffiti. Claire brought us to through the town centre and into St Mary's Market, through the maze of stalls and up some spiral stairs into Platform Studios overlooking the glass façade of the building enveloping the maker's market.

Gathering thoughts and first impressions, we spent some time talking to Claire and Grace in and about their studios, admiring the sprawled artworks of different artists who occupied the studios at different times. Everything was as they'd described: their admin/office, work studio, pantry, and exhibition space all contained in one transient floorspace in a shopping mall no longer valued. Creativity overspilling onto the floors, the walls, through the windows, the ceilings. So much potential!

We were then invited to St Helens World of Glass which also housed the library and community event space, where we were given the opportunity to speak to the local artists in conjunction with one of their residency events organised by Claire. Moving from the almost-abandoned shopping mall to the contemporary landmark of the town was truly eye-opening, as we were shown the irony of the situation everyone was in – the needs and wants for comfortable spaces but the unattainability of gentrified regeneration.

The key takeaway from the visit was an observation made by Claire, that it was great to have fresh new takes on a place they were all too familiar with, and it relit a fire of hope that their studios could potentially be saved.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 23:27
2nd Collaborative Meeting – Plans, Strategies, Structure (15/02/2023)

Prior to contacting the artists for the next meeting, we came together as a group in MTC to merge ideas and establish a timeline and potential outputs for the project.

Armed with the bounty of past MSA Live project booklets and tokens from our site visit, we collectively brainstormed our next steps with special consideration for the BA students who will be joining us in a few months. Using the given deadlines as anchor points, we had to consider the timings and schedules of the busy local and full-time artists in St Helens as well as our university hand-in dates before proposing our plan and workload.

At the end of the day, we decided that – in the spirit of artists and the joy in finding creativity in all things, we will keep our Action Week outputs simple and open to adaptation and changes following the collaboration between students and artists; but with the end goal of pushing the project beyond just consultations and towards making it real (ie to gear up for future planning proposals).
Posted 12 Mar 2023 23:49
3rd Collaborative Meeting (06/03/2023)

With our rough timelines and output ideas on the table, we had an online meeting with Claire to refresh our agendas and mark our calendars.

The meeting was very productive and, like all our meets so far, ended up with exchanges of creativity – this time with Claire showing us about 5 canvases of artwork from the studio on video call while we were discussing further artistic connections and local ideas.

We absolutely can't wait to show you what we have in store for you!
Posted 12 Mar 2023 23:56