Welcome to our new series sharing the stories behind the winners of the Cultural Enterprises Awards 2022 – starting with The Art House, winner of Best Product with The Art House Fabric Pouch.

In November 2020, The Art House in Wakefield introduced a new coffee house and shop as part of the transformation of the main foyer. Shortly afterwards, an online shop was also launched to provide essential flexibility throughout the pandemic, and both the bricks and mortar and online offers have continued to grow throughout this time.

The shop, like the Arts Centre as a whole, is values led; working to support and promote independent artists and makers, with a focus on those based locally to The Art House. That’s just one of the reasons why the retail team recently scooped Best Product at the Cultural Enterprises Awards with their beautiful screen printed cotton canvas pouches, designed and handmade at The Art House. 

The Art House fabric pouches with the Cultural Enterprises Award for Best Product 2022
Photo: The Art House

Retail Manager Jessica Kendall takes up the story:

“To really convey our ethos and values as a charitable organisation, I wanted to create a product range working with local makers throughout the design and productions stage. Wakefield-based print maker and designer Ellie Way produced hand screen printed fabrics in our in-house print studio. We were able to recycle leftover and waste inks from our workshop and outreach programmes, as well as unused screens to create the designs. Due to the reused and repurposed nature of the fabric, each pouch is unique.

“To construct the pouches, we worked with Hamid Yavari of Wakefield Tailoring. Hamid came to The Art House through our Studio of Sanctuary, which provides professional artists and creatives with experience of the asylum-seeking process with vital support to rebuild their networks and establish their practice in Wakefield. Since joining the programme, Hamid has collaborated with a number of other studio holders on products that have been sold across the country, including at The Tate. He took the printed fabrics and transformed them into the first collection of unique pouches.

Designer Ellie Way at work on screen printing
Photo: The Art House
Hamid Yavari of Wakefield Tailoring
Photo: The Art House

“The pouches are the first in a growing product line for The Art House. We plan to work with other local artists and skilled makers in our community to build on the collection. We feel that showcasing the talent and skill we have in the local area is the best way to create a saleable and unique product. All of the money raised through sales of the collection go back into supporting the work we do.”

The Cultural Enterprises Awards Judges absolutely loved the story behind the pouches. Not only are they sustainable, incorporating repurposed and reused materials but they also support local craftspeople, creating a truly unique and exclusive product for The Art House.

Fantastic story behind the product and great work with the local community – a great example of a product supporting the message of the organisation.

The Cultural Enterprises Awards Judging Panel

With thanks to Jessica and all the team at The Art House for sharing the story behind the award winning fabric pouches. Take a look at them, and maybe even treat yourself to one, at The Art House online shop.

Joanne Whitworth
By Joanne Whitworth
Jo is Communications & Media Manager at the Association for Cultural Enterprises.
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