Logo by studio resident Becky McGillivray
Not many people are aware when they come into The Norah Store, on Little Underbank, is that above our sustainable clothing store, above Still Life Story home and lifestyle, there is a spacious loft space filled with no less than six artists and designers who are currently in working residence there.
When I took on the property for the store, I knew, being a young woman in business that, although my business was a one woman show, I did not want to be there each day alone. For financial reasons it made sense to share the rent, but for my personal wellbeing I knew I wanted to share the space with likeminded and creative people. I toyed with the idea of renting the entire floor to a business or some kind of hot desk situation, but having shared studio spaces before (and knowing how hard affordable, clean studios with *shock* windows are to come by) I knew that wanted to attempt to find young designers who needed studio space to share with.
I was initially worried that it would prove difficult to find artists wanting to rent a studio, however nice it was, in Stockport. Having lived and worked in Manchester City Centre for the past 3 years, I know how hard studio spaces are to come by, but I wasn't sure about Stockport. To my surprise, within hours of posting the advertisement I had numerous people wanting to view the space, and it was then that I realised that Stockport had been crying out for affordable artist coworking spaces for young graduates for some time.
Marketplace Studios on, you guessed it - The Marketplace, is fantastic, but as they are owned by MMU, they only allow their own graduates to take residence there. I wanted to create a space where anybody was welcome, no matter where they had (or hadn't) studied.
One thing I didn't expect was how sharing a business space with people could develop into solid friendships. This experience has been one of the things I am most proud of with The Norah Store. The studio residents help promote the store just by telling their friends about it, and help support me on days when the store is quiet by just having someone to have a brew and a chat with.
As a young female entrepreneur I cannot recommend enough the concept of space sharing. Commercial property leases are often far too much to commit to on your own, when cashflow has not yet gathered momentum, and sharing spaces enables others to get a foot in too. Its a win-win situation.
The top floor of the shop lends itself to studios perfectly - its a high ceilinged open space, but with lots of nooks and crannies for individual spaces. The co-working space allows the studio residents to share ideas, equipment and materials, keeping costs down for everyone and creating new collaborations and opportunities.
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce our residents, in their own words, what they do and where you can purchase their work.
Becky in her studio space during the Norah Studios Print Fair
Becky is an image maker from Stockport, and Stockport College graduate who primarily uses collage as her medium, incorporating type, textures, shape and all kinds of materials with a typically ad-hoc approach.
Becky creates energetic compositions in response to the things she is consuming. She also makes work on a freelance basis for musicians, having produced album and promotional artwork.
A born and bred Stopfordian, Becky is often collaborating with the local independent shops and businesses. You can see her mural for Open Spaces with Yasmin Lever on Little Underbank, just up the road from the store.
She has also produced prints based on illustrations at local Plant Shop, as well as producing a poster for their recent Todmorden Takeover.
LILY WINDSOR WALKER
Lily is our newest studio resident who is looking forward to being able to move in post lockdown.
Lily is a Manchester based print designer who's work is influenced mainly by plants and flowers. Colour is very important other practice and she loves to use bright, bold colours in her designs.
Her work is a mixture of painting and cut outs which are then assembled on Photoshop to create her signature designs.
Lily recently collaborated with Australian clothing brand Dorte Clothing on their debut collection, where her playful aprint designs were translated to fashion, all printed on 100% recycled cotton.
Find Lily's Etsy page here or drop her an email email@example.com
Hattie is a print designer and mixed media artist who's work is heavily influenced by nature and historical prints. Primarily figurative, her work has a focus of storytelling particularly through the medium of textiles.
Hattie works with local fashion brand Olivia Annabelle, creating bespoke prints and artwork for the label. The collections encapsulate the romantic spirit of dressing up in a contemporary world and in their most recent collection, celebrating spring, was inspired by the Bloomsbury group and their countryside retreat, Charleston House in Sussex.
Hannah is a children’s book illustrator originally from Leeds. She studied at Leeds College of Art and Falmouth University before moving back up north and across the pennines.
Hannah's process usually involves drawing, painting and collaging various bits and pieces before putting it all together on her computer. She is inspired by naive art, nature documentaries and old picture books.
Take a look at her work on her website here:
Ruby is a fine artist who studied in Brighton and moved back up North to Stockport and joined us here at Norah Studios.
She creates large abstract canvasses, often experimenting with multimedia, such as mixing clay and oil pastel, as well as working with more traditional subjects such as life drawing, whilst experimenting with poses and colour.
If you would like any further information about any of the artists in Norah Studios, and their contact details aren't listed here, please email The Norah Store at firstname.lastname@example.org